Eric Steckel Music [Release Date: 31.10.12]
Eric Steckel’s ‘Dismantle The Sun’ was originally released in the States towards the end of last year, but is being belated promoted in the UK on the back of his first proper UK tour.
Being mentored by John Mayall clearly didn’t do Eric any harm, but you suspect that his playing ability would sooner or later have got him noticed anyway. ‘Dismantle The Sun’ pulls together all his talents and has enough highlights to broaden the fan base of a young man with real musical ability and some good songs to match.
Eric started early cutting his first CD at the tender age of 11 year old, but now he’s grown up. He’s got an assured touch and tone and he’s a decent song writer in the blues-rock crossover vein, with a good ear for a killer melody and a defining solo.
Primarily a guitar album, there’s also a strong focus on song craft as evidenced by 7 confident co-writes with his rhythm section of bassist Rick Prince and drummer Andrew Haley.
The end result is an album that pulls his playing style in different directions. He’s happiest when leaning into several substantial grooves with effortless big toned solos, but really impresses on the slower blues ballads that show Eric to be a fine singer with emotive phrasing to match his fluid guitar playing and subtle keyboard parts.
He opens with the muscular funk of ‘Mississippi River’, and slips through the gears on the riff driven ‘Day Drinkin’. He really hits base on the magnificent Michael Burks song ‘Empty Promises’, the first of three weighty ballads that play to his strengths. The organ and piano lines simmer and bubble like all the best grooves do, but it’s Eric soulful phrasing that gives the song real presence, while his two slowly building guitar solos perfectly enhance a song that he brings to a sustained climactic finish.
The self penned blues ballad ‘Last Night’ is even better. Sandwiched the other side of a 12 bar shuffle ‘Love Me Or Leave Me’, the intro is drenched in guitar harmonics and is very reminiscent of Dave Mason at his peak. The melodic layered organ and electro/acoustic wash is the perfect foil for Eric as he emotes the key lines on a moving love song: ‘Last night I tripped over all my words again, last night, forgot everything I stand for, last night, I took a walk in someone else’s shoes, what else could I expect, it’s the just the price I’ve got to pay whenever I’m with you’. The aching solo and final shred perfectly evokes the feel of one of his very best songs.
Where to go after such a sublime song? Eric opts for the heavier riffs of ‘Outlaw’, which starts out with ZZ Top feel and explodes into an organ led jam. It’s a style he further pursues on ‘Found Out The Hard way’, which sounds a little pedestrian compared to the best moments on the album, though his sizzling slide explorations will doubtless keep fans happy.
‘Highway Bound’ is another perfectly nuanced and atmospheric melodic ballad, full of cool organ sweeps and subtle piano fills. The dynamic spell is broken by a brief but uplifting flighty solo that weaves in and out the track like a gentle breeze, before coming to rest on the fade out.
Refreshingly his cover of ‘Sugar Sweet’ is a down-home, piano and slide-led arrangement with rhythmic handclaps and an unexpected dirt sounding blues harp from guest Steve Guyger.
The album finishes on the smouldering piano and organ led ‘From Your Blue Eyes To Mine’, featuring another fine vocal performance before an avalanche of chiming guitar lines fills the fade.
‘Dismantle The Sun’ is a major step up for Eric Steckel. He’s found a purposeful musical direction to match his instrumental ability and stellar vocals and this album comes recommended for all guitar and rock-blues fans alike. ****
Review by Pete Feenstra
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