Tuesday, December 7, 2021

E D Brayshaw - Random Repeat

It’d be fair to say that E D Brayshaw, a gentleman of a certain age with a thinning hairline to match my own, doesn’t immediately bring Ziggy Stardust to mind.  But like Ziggy, boy can he play guitar!
That's not all there is to his second solo album, Random Repeat, but it’s a pretty good place to start.  Regular readers will know that I can get most disgruntled at guitarists who ramble on for ages as if songs are just excuses for them to solo.  But here we have Mr Brayshaw, who undoubtedly likes to spread himself a bit when it comes to the ol’ guitar pickin’, taking 56 minutes to deliver ten songs – and I like it.  I like it a lot, in fact.
E D Brayshaw - not quite Ziggy Stardust
Pic by Sally Newhouse
On the opening ‘Storm Warning’ his barbed-wire delivery of the twisting and turning opening guitar riff provides the perfect setting for the dramatic pen picture of the titular storm.  It’s one of at least three tracks that have seen the light of day before, in this case in cahoots with his mucker Wily Bo Walker on their album The Roads We Ride – he’s evidently been infected by Walker’s penchant for frequent reworking of material – but that doesn’t detract from its power.  His voice is more billy-goat-gruff than Walker’s velvet growl, but that doesn’t matter either, because he sings with real intent.  And then there are the solos, intense affairs that fizz and crackle like forks of lightning, taking the main guitar theme and shaking it in all directions.
Penultimate track ‘After The Storm’ offers a more subdued, Celtic-tinged arrangement that suggests the skies clearing and the rain washing away, but only as the backdrop to some Dire Straits-like storytelling about a man’s life left in ruins by the tempest, his anguish captured in Brayshaw’s plaintive soloing.
The less intense ‘Just Another Night’ humorously recounts nights onstage in different settings, during which he feels the presence of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Duane Allman and Roy Buchanan at this side, and if his payoff line of “I’ll do everything that I can” is a tad weak, that can’t be said of the steady, laid back backing, or his well-paced, sizzling guitar breaks.
But different styles are explored too.  The easy-going, semi-acoustic ‘Take It Away’ is in shuffling JJ Cale territory.  And there’s a Knopfler-like feel to the lilting ‘Tennessee Blues’, with its tripping rhythm and simple, bobbing bass, to which Brayshaw adds some jauntier guitar work, tinkling piano, and what sounds like banjo and lap slide into the bargain.  Or possibly something else, since the guy is a multi-instrumentalist who also takes care of bass, drums, mandolin and dobro duties, with only a little help from Lee Feltham on the drum stool for a few tracks.
Adding to the variety, things get swinging and jazzy on ‘Probably Correct’ and the closing, more restrained ‘Petite Fleur”, the former with a conversational, tongue-in-cheek lyric, and the latter a cover of an instrumental by the long gone jazz clarinettist Sidney Bechet, that comes over like a more fluid forebear of ‘Parisienne Walkways’.
‘Fade Away’ is a highlight in a very different vein.  It kicks off with a rapidly throbbing, undulating bass line over a snappy beat, sounding like a speeded-up sample from Michael Jackson’s ‘Billie Jean’, but as the basis for a tune with a bit of a snarl.  Brayshaw’s voice is straining and angsty over the fuzzy guitar riffing, and he knocks off a tearaway solo as the bass goes into rollercoaster mode.  It’s the one here track that harks back, pleasingly, to some of the rough’n’ready R’n’B sounds on his previous album Fire Without Water.
There's nothing random about this album.  E D Brayshaw doesn’t attempt anything fancy.  He may be a black belt of guitar tone, but I don’t hear a phalanx of effects pedals at work here.  His voice is nothing special, to be sure, but it’s got character and a certain charm, and he writes a good song.  Random Repeat is the sound of a man happy in his work, and if you like razor-sharp, imaginative guitar-playing then you should be happy with it too.
Random Repeat is out now on Mescal Canyon Records, and can be ordered here.

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