Provogue [Release date 29.07.16]
‘Dust & Bones’ is guitarist Gary Hoey’s 20th album, 12 of which are instrumental. It’s all you might expect from a rock-into-blues guitarist who has made his name by re-invigorating favourite 70’s rock songs with metal arrangements, while not playing with the likes of Jeff Beck, Eric Johnson, Ted Nugent Joe Satriani, Rick Derringer and even Deep Purple.
It’s also an album that gives him artistic freedom based on feel. The result is a kick-ass rock/blues album with the exception of the Lita Ford power ballad duet ‘Coming Home’, and ‘Soul Surfer’, a reverb filled homage to surf music legend Dick Dale that somehow manages to convey yet more unexpected guitar mastery.
Hoey’s bristling confidence is built on array of big tones, crucial riffs and an expansive sound well suited to the rock and blues template that is his temporary home.
His biggest task is to stamp his own signature on 11 tracks that show both his influences and versatility. It’s not until the title track that he combines all his very best elements to show his true DNA. He attacks the song with a lovely tone and a Brian Adams style vocal, leading to a big hook, before a defining shred. It’s a track surely destined for rock radio playlists.
The opening slide-led ‘Boxcar Blues’ shifts from down-home swamp to slide-led rocking blues, via a cool break-down, on a perfect calling card from an out-and-out rock guitarist for whom blues gives him room to expand his style.
Gary might lean on several major influences, but he does ultimately reveal his own style on the title track highlight.
He boogies away on the rockabilly infused ‘Who’s Your Daddy’ – a tribute to Stray Cat Brian Setzer – delivered with a clean guitar tone and a jump arrangement, while ‘Born To Love You’ evokes ZZ Top with a dash of Hendrix wah-wah.
In sharp contrast, the soft rock ballad ‘Coming Home’ shows he’s been working on his song craft. It’s a duet with Lita Ford, complete with a tremulous guitar line that emphasizes his lyrical theme.
‘Ghost Of Yesterday’ is another beautifully crafted song, with a crystal clear tone and gnarly wah-wah that could be either Hendrix or Trower, though the final fluid solo is that of a seasoned rock guitarist with 20 albums under his belt.
‘This Time Tomorrow’, borrows more earthy tones straight from the Trower cannon, to give the song an imposing presence and noir feel. All that’s missing is a tougher vocal, which he ultimately finds on the chorus to match his own steely guitar work.
By the three quarter mark, he’s convinced us he’s got his own thing going on, from the tonal variations to the contrasting attacks. The album enjoys an integral flow which marks him out as a feel player as well as a technician who can nuance light and shade.
The shuffle ‘Back Up Against The Wall’, is full if incisive chops, lightning licks and a decent vocal, while ‘Blind Faith’ is more of a stomp with a claustrophobic tone, as his guitar lines and vocal engage in a call and response sequence. And if the guitar parts are more impressive than the song itself, you still can’t argue with the spark he generates.
‘Dust & Bones’ might relate to the way we all end up, but it could equally be viewed as a reference to the blues as the skeleton for all good contemporary music, and it’s that journey from the past to the present that makes this album so interesting. ****
Review by Pete Feenstra
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