Album review: PAUL GILBERT – I Can Destroy

In the Pete Feenstra Feature on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sunday 8 May 2016 at 20:00 GMT, Pete chatted to Paul Gilbert, with tracks from the album ‘I Can Destroy’.

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PAUL GILBERT – I Can Destroy

earMUSIC [Release date 27.05.15]

Paul Gilbert is a ‘guitarist’s guitarist’ who revels in a self penned musical hybrid shot through with intensity, precision and plenty of humour.

Produced by Kevin Shirley, ‘I Can Destroy’ is a big sounding album with enough of twists and turns to make Gilbert’s solos sound both dynamic and interesting.

The opening title track balances lyrical eclecticism with a poppy feel while his incredible chops help him forge his own style.

There are plenty of incendiary guitar breaks and harmony guitar parts, but he also demonstrates a lightness of touch which is almost playful at times. This aspect is offset by several complex moments that explore  rock,  pop, metal, blues as he cleverly balances the obtuse with the accessible.

‘I Can Destroy’ is full of diversity, a wide range of solos and an array of tone colours. He glues together all the elements on ‘One Woman Too Many’, which he tops with an incredible shred and a Theremin type outro, before slipping into some hard riffing and belligerent slide guitar on ‘One Woman Stop’.

The lyrical duality of the line ‘I Love Anything I Can Destroy’ is partially mirrored by the subtle dynamic tension between his exemplary playing and his pop sensibilities laced with multi tracked harmonies.

Gilbert doesn’t have the strongest of voices – he over compensates for this on the double-time title track with some deliberate gruff phrasing – but he’s smart enough to incorporate a series of clever vocal and guitar-led dynamics.

Both the title track and the acoustic pop of ‘The Love We Had’ references 10cc, while the latter finishes with some Beatles style harmonies on the chorus.

The restless feel of the album is evidenced by the way he suddenly ditches the stop-time Rory Gallagher influenced ‘I Am The One (Who Wants To Be With You’) for an intense high octane bluesy outro.

He uses poppy melodies and a catchy hook on ‘Make It (If We Try’), while on the album highlight, ‘I Will Be Remembered’ he combines great backing harmonies with a pop/rock format, couched in a bluesy groove that sounds very much like Todd Rundgren

And it’s this constant search for a catchy hook to match his licks that gives him real crossover potential, exemplified by the booming ‘call and response’ hook of the rock and roll work out ‘Gonna Make You Love Me’.

He saves his biggest impact for the bonus track ‘Great White Buffalo’ on a collision of understated power, song craft and intense guitar playing. The big crescendo on the outro is effectively a musical sleight of hand, as it suggests a succinct resolution to a bulldozer of an album, but ‘I Can Destroy’ has more depth than that.

It’s a frequently multi-layered and surprisingly diverse album full of magisterial guitar lines that constantly draws him into new musical avenues.

He’s at his best on the opening twist and turns of the clumsily titled ‘Everybody Use Your Goddamn Turn Signal’ and the high octane ‘One Woman Too Many’, while the poppy bluesy groove of ‘I Will Be Remembered’ is an example of an artist following his own musical path.

‘I Can Destroy’ reveals new nuances with repeated plays.  Paul Gilbert’s musical knowledge, breathless guitar playing and imaginative arrangements shape the  musical vision of a shredder with a penchant for real songs. ****

Review by Pete Feenstra

Pete Feenstra presents his Rock & Blues Show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Tuesday at 19:00 GMT, and “The Pete Feenstra Feature” on Sundays at 20:00

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