Adrian Galysh [Release date 25.05.16]
Having thrown everything at his disposal into his previous prog influenced album ‘Tone Poet’, West coast guitarist Adrian Galysh’s new ‘Into The Blue’ is a return to rock blues basics, except he’s got Kaycee Clanton guesting on vocals to give the album an unexpected extra dimension.
She’s got an interesting background including stints with Beth Hart and Big Brother & The Holding Company and she doesn’t hold back. She brings a raucous rock feel to the drum tight ‘The War’ – one of 5 impressive Galysh/Clanton co-writes – and she tackles the Gary Moore influenced ballad ‘Unloveable Me’, on which she just about moulds her words with Galysh’s big guitar figure.
Adrian Galysh is a well respected LA based axe slinger with collaborative credits with fellow guitar giants like Uli Jon Roth, Yngwie Malmsteen and Robben Ford, as well as being a published guitar tutor. And it’s his ability to imaginatively work his way round some tight arrangements and deliver real spark and contrast that makes this album more than just another LA session man’s side project.
The two striking covers of ‘Messing With the Kid’ – featuring guest guitarist Carl Verheyen – and ‘Further On Up The Road’ with Johnny Hiland are live set staples, but it’s his self penned ‘Let Your Hammer Ring’, complete with a chain gang sample, that sets out his qualities loud and clear. A big arresting drum sound is offset by a climactic shred that leaves us in no doubt as to Adrian’s guitar playing credentials.
His rhythm section of Joey Heredia (Stevie Wonder) and bassist Paul Loranger (Eric Sardinas) sets up a booming back beat which he drenches with an expressive shower of notes to give the song its resolution.
Kaycee Clanton also quickly impresses with her opening vocal on the single ‘Bar Stool Monarchy’, which is arguably one of the best tracks on the album.
Much like the slide figure of ‘Who Am I To Say’, it’s a radio friendly song with a vague Zeppelin feel, that in this case bubbles up over a basic funky track, as Kaycee’s angst is more than mirrored by Galysh’s rich tones.
And it is the flexibility of Galysh tone choices that gives the material a notable depth and marks him out as a good blues player.
He toughens up the riffs on ‘Further On Up The Road’, though the song also exposes his limitations as a vocalist. But as with much of this album, he does his best talking with his guitar playing, especially when he’s joined by hot Nashville picker Johnny Hiland, who brings light and shade to a cover that is initially underwhelming, but is soon transformed by string busting frisson.
Then there’s the fluidity of Galysh’s guitar runs as evidenced by ‘Messin’ With The Kid’, as he weaves in and out of a whip-crack arrangement.
‘Nobody Knows You (When You’re Down & Out)’ might be a tad unimaginative as a choice of a cover, but Kaycee brings real gravitas to the piece with emotive phrasing over banks of synths, before Adrian’s signature tone rises dramatically in an arc to round off the song with another defining moment.
And it’s his ability to inject the tried and tested with a fresh purpose through his solos that is the key to this album’s success.
He saves his best for last, as Kaycee launches into an impassioned vocal on the Joplinesque ‘Why Am I Singing The Blues’, a song with nuanced bv’s and a big sweep that underlines the titular question.
Adrian Galysh’s diverse solos are always an integral part of the arrangements and his wide range of tone colours means that his familiar brand of blues/rock carries enough emotional weight and versatility to make this an interesting guitar driven album. ***½
Review by Pete Feenstra
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