Album review: DAVE FIELDS – All In

Dave Fields [Released 01.07.14]

Dave Fields is a fieryNew York guitarist who bristles with confidence, verve and a great tone. ‘All In’ is an album that will doubtless please guitar freaks, but his material lacks sufficient depth to break out of that niche market.

It’s a well played rocking blues album with a psychedelic edge, explored over 11 tracks. 3 were cut live at Al Weber’s, one was recorded live in Norway and the rest are studio efforts on which the lyrics or melodies are not quite strong enough to stand out in a crowded market place.

The biggest problem with the album is that it’s simply too derivative, from the opening ‘Changes In My life’ onwards. The latter is an edgy ‘live in the studio’ rocker that is lyrically and sonically influenced by Philip Sayce, especially the distorted tone on the solo. The more succinct and funky ‘Voodoo Eyes’ grows on you with repeated plays as he sings: “I’m in a supernatural conference call”.

But rather than building on the impressive opening, the album loses its way on an up tempo dance number ‘Let’s Go Downtown’, which apart from the burgeoning guitar solo, is in sharp contrast to its lyrical refrain: “Let’s got downtown where they play the blues.”

Things get more eclectic on the delicate opening guitar line and surreal lyrical imagery of ‘Dragonfly’ but it doesn’t quite enthral us with what his PR calls its ‘layers of reality’. You could argue that he’s searching for something different, as evidenced by the grunge like, wild distorted slide break on a cover of ‘Crossroads’, but you have to do more than add an additional 3 and a half lines of verse, over Kenny Soule’s pounding drum pattern to make a convincing splash.

‘Wake Up Jasper’ has echoes of Elmore James and the funky live in Norway cover of Zeppelin’s ‘Black Dog’ features a belated change of tone on the solo as part of an arrangement well suited to his underrated vocals.

For the rest, there’s plenty of  full blown soloing on functional material, with an unexpected acoustic finger clicking slice of cool on ‘Lover’s Holiday’, with an Eagles influenced hook.

‘All In’ smoulders with the potential of the first two tracks and intermittently sparkles with ripping solos, but ultimately it’s an album in search of stronger material and possibly a spare pair of ears to help with the flow and direction. ***

Review By Pete Feenstra

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