Troy Redfern Music [Released 26.01.15] www.troyredfern.com
Troy Redfern is a slide guitar player who knows the value of a rich tonal landscape framed by a sumptuous production. His self titled debut album is full of self assurance, nuanced pacing, bristling dynamics and essential spark.
‘TRB’ is Troy’s first physical album, but he’s obviously honed his craft on his previous three digital releases, as his inspired playing and coruscating licks are matched by mature song craft and well balanced arrangements.
His lyrics may be secondary to his deep tones and blistering solos, but everything fits together seamlessly as he ad libs his vocals phonetically.
While the TRB touring unit comprises Stuart MacDonald (Paul Rogers Peace/Killing Floor/Salt/Freddie King) and shuffle drummer Phil Greenhouse, this album is solely Troy’s own work. He’s got the overall vision and a cool producer’s ear to match his own playing ability. As he says himself: “some of the songs start like a sketch and then I colour them”.
Troy’s slide playing is inevitably the main focus, but his rhythm tracks are rock solid and varied enough to emphasize rhythmic pushes and contrasting booming beats. He’s an intuitive musician who is acutely aware of the potential that a song’s space offers him. It all leads to several spine tingling moments when he lets fly with a slide led assault that sometimes sounds like an ascending jumbo jet.
Everything is well balanced and incorporates moments of inspired spontaneity, as evidenced by ‘The Other Side’. He’s equally impressive on well thought out arrangements such as the big drum groove, taut picking, piercing notes and exaggerated vocal of ‘War Cry’.
The similar brooding feel of ‘Survive’ shifts every last air molecule round the studio in a glorious journey of compression to rarefaction. Troy’s whispered vocal and bruising hook is elevated by a magisterial tonal arc on a perfect example of an exhilarating guitarist enjoying the potential of space and dynamics, safe in the knowledge that he has a locker full of tones from which to fulfil the songs potential.
Troy grooves and rocks on a visceral album that shifts from intricate playing to rip roaring solos. It’s also a yardstick for how far he’s come in a short space of time. ‘TRB’ is essentially a compilation of his best career moments so far, but it still sounds like an organic whole, benefiting from some slick sequencing and a fluid production that places the emphasis on sonic variety and bristling dynamics.
Those very same elements are evident on the opening ‘It Stacks’ which sets the standard for an excellent album, while ‘Back Home’ is a tub thumping slice of unreconstructed boogie which he partly revisits on the urgent stop-time hook of ‘The Other Side’. ‘Salvation’ is altogether heavier, and overcomes a stodgy intro to evolve into a weighty slide-led workout over an ever present big back beat.
And if ‘Salvation’ is a smouldering fuse, then ‘Wildfire’ positively ignites the album with an outrageous opening rockabilly bass line that evokes John Avila from The Imperial Crowns.Troy’s blistering bottle neck takes the song to another level. The pounding beat, distorted guitar tones and edgy vocal combines thrillingly to give the album a huge lift.
Troy’s lyrics aim for the epic – ranging from biblical prophecies to redemption – but he settles for a surprisingly straight head work out-on the rocking ‘What Goes Round’, complete with a simple, but catchy hook.
‘Back Door Hoodoo’ is arguably the rawest piece on the album and combines a gnarled sub Beefheart vocal with dazzling slide chops. It’s the most original track, but it smokes with fret board intensity and an unexpected blues-harp wail for good measure.
This album perfectly distils the best of Troy Redfern, a blues and boogie influenced slide player of the highest order. ****
Review by 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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