Album review: LAURENCE JONES – Temptation

 

 

 

 

Ruf Records [Release date 10.03.14]

It may be a PR cliché, but the phrase ‘hotly anticipated album’ was never more apt than when applied to Laurence Jones’s ‘Temptation’.  Having made a big splash on the UK blues-rock circuit, he’s taken an impressive new batch of songs and his fiery guitar playing down to Lafayette,Louisiana. He’s teamed up with producer Mike Zito and the Royal Southern Brotherhood rhythm section of drummer Yonrico Scott and bassist Charlie Wooton. The result is one of the best blues-rock albums of the year so far.

‘Temptation’ is that rare thing, a meeting of musical minds with results that surpass expectations.  In the words of Mike Zito: ‘Its raw, its real and it happened in one week’. And it is that ‘in the moment’ feel that permeates an album full of drive, passion, crackling electricity and style.

Laurence makes light of the studio setting and heightened expectations to lay down his own brand of exciting rock-blues. Having a great rhythm section helps of course, and when Yonrico Scott isn’t busy powering a take to the max, his bass playing cohort Charlie Wooton adds his own ripping bass lines to underpin Laurence’s high energy levels with real heft.

The final part of the jigsaw is provided by Mike Zito who apart from being a fine sing writer and mean guitarist himself, gives the material its dynamic, and encourages Laurence to explore different guitar tones and bring a performance out of him way beyond his years.

Laurence set his own high standards with his debut album ‘Thunder in the Sky’, but this is a mighty step forward. Just listen to the way he revels in the company of the marvellous harp player Johnny Sansone on the funky ‘Tomorrow Is Another Day’, and with the road tested ebullience of Walter Trout, as Wooton’s walking bass and Yonrico’s essential push make it a worthy title track. Walter locks horns with Laurence, but the youngster takes it all in his stride, clearly enjoying the moment with a guitarist he has shared the stage with a lot in recent times.

Another major guitar talent Aynsley Lister also lends a hand with a bristling solo on another feisty shuffle ‘Wind Me Up’.

Laurence and producer Zito enjoy themselves on the belligerent swagger of the co-penned ‘Soul Swamp River’, a guitar and harp-laden slice of roots rock on which Laurence pushes his vocals to the limit.

And yet having drawn from the well of high profile guests, Laurence never loses sight of his own signature style. His youthful exuberance is captured on the sizzling opener ‘Foolin’ Me’, on which he rips into the solo, and he’s equally impressive on the hard driving and very catchy ‘Move On’.

Better still, is the incremental build of ‘Fall From the Sky’, which is the perfect meeting of the guitarist and his excellent rhythm section, as they slip through the gears to allow Laurence to indulge himself with a mighty solo and a great vocal.  It’s a beautiful track that is nicely sequenced at the core of an album that doesn’t let up, but pushes on instead with the buzz toned guitar on the funky groove ‘My Eyes Keep Me In Trouble’.  The lyrics of the song and the album title might be apt for a young rocker on his first trip to the States, but ‘Temptation’ sounds like the end product of a lot of hard work, fun, and focus

‘Temptation’ is an early year highlight that suggests Laurence has enjoyed stretching himself musically and it provides a measured barometer of the exceedingly high standard of Bit blues-rock at the moment. ****½ 

Review Pete Feenstra


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Pete Feenstra celebrated his 300th show in October 2019. Pete heads up a five-hour blues rock marathon when “Tuesday is Bluesday” from 19:00 GMT. Listen out also for his interview-based Feature show on Sundays (20:00 GMT)

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