DAVID LOCKE Transitions [Release date 05.15] www.davidlocke.co.uk
David Locke is another guitar journeymen but the difference between his production values and the Derian Cross album (see below) are palpable.
A lot of time and effort has evidently gone into making ‘Transitions’ a really satisfying listen, and the secret weapon here is orchestration. Indeed, David has revisited the album over an extended period and changed the arrangements.
Overall the vibe is jazz/prog metal fusion, but always tuneful. All credit too that he has programmed the drums and bass himself, as the homebrew multi-instrumentalist syndrome is also all-too-prevalent these days, and with varying results.
Locke has been influenced by Brian May but I assume this informs his song structures as he doesn’t sound anything like the Queen guitarist. More aligned to a player like Marco Sfogli or Brian Maillard, I’d say.
Yes, this guy can shred but he never sacrifices a good tune, of which there are many including the shorter ‘Star’ and ‘Displacement’. And there is sufficient quality – both in the songs and in Locke’s fluid legato guitar style - to engage the listener. ‘States Of Mind’ starts like a sub-007 theme and would be a good enough entrée to Locke’s approach. If you like this piece you will pretty much go with the whole album.
Locke is a guitar teacher and demonstrates that – with the right ideas and earnest application – homebrew can be worthwhile. With a real band and independent producer on board who knows what might be achieved? Check out his YouTube channel for more demos including a recent take on the ‘Game Of Thrones’ theme. ****
Review by David Randall
TESS OF THE CIRCLE Amplify
Tess Jones does not stand still. His debut Magpie (2010) was an introspective acoustic based set, and the follow up Thorns (2013) was swathed in a quintessentially British, Moody Blues era, 1970′s ambience.
Amplify sees only Lee Clifton (electric guitar, mandolin, acoustic guitar and backing vocals) retained from Thorns. In comes a new rhythm section of Ben Drummond on bass and Paul Stone on drums, with Gavin Monaghan (Robert Plant, Lemmy, Ocean Colour Scene) brought in to give the sessions an authentic rock ‘n’ roll production.
And while Tess has made something for a name for himself with acoustic ventures including Glastonbury and the Cambridge Rock Festival, Amplify is a very much an ‘electric’ set – four guys in a room ‘going with the flow’.
‘Love Is The Drug That You Crave’ opens the vinyl LP length set (a seemingly growing trend) with a hot blast of ’70s blues rock with vaguely Bowie style vocals, and ‘I’m Not Ashamed’ is equally intense.
‘You Take Me Out Of My Head’ apes Zeppelin in its formulation, and while Tess is no Robert Plant he does have a suitably raw ‘classic rock’ timbre. It’s an aggressive, earthy and soulful outing that puts some distance between Amplify and his previous releases.
Subtlety isn’t ditched altogether though – ‘Believe (Into Her Arms)’ echoes Thorns, ‘Face The Changes’ has a distinctly R.E.M. vibe, and ‘The Waves That Break Us Down’ is suitably haunting. But in the round, Amplify takes a positive leap back to the future. Which is where the present seems to be heading. ***1/2
Review by Pete Whalley
DERIAN CROSS One
Does the world need another guitar hero? Perhaps all we do need are tasteful players who really think about composition and structure. Perhaps the best recent example we’ve heard at GRTR! Towers is Australian guitarist Graham Greene’s latest solo album.
If over-indulgence and lack of self-discipline is a regular feature of solo guitar offerings, production values also let things down. And ‘One’ suffers from a thin sound throughout, from the frequently insipid guitar to the tinny rhythm with lack of bass.
As ever, more work is required. LA-based Derian needs a good producer and an even better engineer to capture his vision and harness any originality over and above what is essentially a demo. **1/2
Review by David Randall
David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 2 August 2020.
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