This is pretty blues-rockingly obvious from tracks like ‘Soul Parasite’ and ‘Selfish Lover’, both of which feature scalding guitar solos. ‘Soul Paradise’ also comes decked out in lead-heavy riffing supplemented by explosive drums from Andy Maritz, while on ‘Selfish Lover’ there’s even more
of a trademark Patlansky riff – thumpingly hard-edged, with a lop-sided funk element. And if that’s not enough there’s the stabbing, trampling underfoot riff on ‘Presence’, underlined by his exclamation of “Wheurgh!” along the way, though here both the chorus and the guitar solo are more fluid.
|Smile for the camera Dan, c'mon!|
Pic by Tobias Johan Coetsee
But he’s at his most interesting, methinks, when he invokes the personal. ‘Lost’ is a wistful slow tune about fear of losing a loved one, the mood underscored by washes of organ from Dean Barrett and his own flickering guitar. The sensitivity is even more powerful on ‘I’ll Keep Trying’, a plangent reflection on personal failings that opens in muted fashion, with delicate falsetto vocals, before gradually finding its feet. It also features an ethereal solo that floats and flutters in sublime fashion before rising into more anthemic mode.
‘Shelter Of Bones’ combines the personal and the philosophical with similar conviction, starting with minimalist percussion and piano notes, and gentle, haunting vocals as Patlansky considers the perilous future awaiting his children. A vaguely prog-inclined ballad, it develops simple, hesitant guitar licks into a patient solo, which could be even better if for once he were to resist his penchant for twirling phrases, and maintain more Gilmour-like suspense. But with this, and the meditation on lockdown positives of ‘Sweet Memoirs’, it seems to me Patlansky makes common cause with Wille & The Bandits in producing rock music of substance for the 21st century, even if their sounds diverge in some respects.
If all that sounds a bit deep, there’s a more laid-back musical touch on both ‘Snake Oil City’ and ‘Hounds Loose’, the former a swinging, bluesy track on which our Dan lays out some jazzy guitar chops, and the latter a lighter and brighter burst of rock – ironic, given it’s about dealing with the devil – with a spangly bridge and a stiletto-sharp solo.
Reviewing 2018’s Perfection Kills, I suggested Dan Patlansky still had untapped potential. I think that’s still true. Shelter Of Bones is another damn good album from him, but one or two songs feel a bit slight, there’s the occasional sense of him repeating himself from earlier work, and I’m convinced there are still new horizons he could explore. Oh yeah, and it would be nice if he cheered up a bit, on the lyric front. Just turn and face the sun now and then Dan, y’know?
All the same, it’s good to have Dan Patlansky back, four years down the line from his last album. The guy is a thoroughly modern guitar hero, and one with things to say.
Shelter Of Bones is released on 25 February by Virgin Music Label and Artist Services, and can be ordered here.
Dan Patlansky is touring Britain from 31 March to 13 April, details and tickets available here.