Provogue Records [Release date 21.02.20]
‘Blacktop Run’ is a guitar album with a difference. It’s full of full of subtle tones, textures, lovely grooves, pulsing riffs and imaginative solos, tempered by startling stylistic diversity.
It’s an album sparked by some fine band interplay and intricate guitar lines, but despite the opening panoramic title track has to work hard to shoehorn the different genres into a coherent whole.
The fact that Sonny Landreth manages to do so is down to his own fluid playing style and an exquisite range of tones, aligned with several moments when his beguiling vocal style draws us into a mix of narratives and vignettes.
It’s an album shot through with his Louisiana roots – his moniker of ‘King of Slydeco’ is well merited – but his adventurous spirit takes him on an exploratory musical road trip.
He opens with the Eastern toned resonator driven Americana title track, where he’s: “Chasing the light, on a steady roll with my shadows in tow.”
He threads his sumptuous tone into the fabric of the funky instrumental groove ‘Lover Dance With Me’ and provides more contrast on the down-home percussive feel of the dobro and accordion-led ‘Don’t Ask Me’, before settling into the beautifully sculpted acoustic and slide instrumental ‘Many Worlds’.
His evocative playing illuminates everything and brings coherence and balance to an album that includes 4 instrumentals, and is probably a couple of strong songs short of offering him convincing crossover appeal.
The album’s principal aim is to find a meaningful context for his exquisite guitar playing on a musical journey that inexorably flows into the sublime ‘Something Grand’, which rounds off the album with some Jackson Brown style introspection.
The latter track is all about feel and it’s held together by an acoustic wash with a subtle organ line, shuffled brush strokes and Landreth’s best vocal, as his tonality and perfect diction draws us into the lyrics: “Let a tender mercy become something grand.”
Whatever the meaning of the song, there’s something magical about the perfect combination of voice and instrumentation.
‘Blacktop Run’ also successfully crosses the tricky divide between concise story telling and exhilarating instrumental spontaneity, with Landreth being the prefect conduit with his range of weighty tones and a lightness of touch.
There’s some inspired band interplay on the sparkling instrumental ‘Groovy Goodness’’, which is predicated on David Ranson’s galloping bass line with lashing of feverish slide and organ as part of an imposing wall of sound.
In sharp contrast, Steve Conn’s ‘Somebody Gotta Make A Move’, is a roots rock ballad relationship song of real substance. The mid tempo rhythm and keyboard embellishments evoke the edgy break up lyrics, while Landreth’s coruscating slide further emphasises the angst of the narrator.
Conn also contributes the percussive and upbeat Latino inflected instrumental ‘Beyond Borders’. It almost sounds as if it’s from a different session, but it’s another thrilling exposition of Landreth’s tremulous tone delivered over a percolating rhythm section.
The Zydeco influenced ‘Mule’ is less memorable, save for the meeting of accordion and guitar, while his eco friendly ‘The Wilds of Wonder’ employs the same expansive sound to be found on the cinematic opening track.
The final instrumental ‘Many Worlds’ is an exquisitely piece on which he applies his slide in the manner of a painter’s brush stroke on a canvas.
His combination of long linear lines and sultry rhythms has a magical subliminal quality that reconnects us to everything that has gone before on the album. The slide and acoustic double lines tap into different sensibilities, moods and emotions and glue everything together into something that mirrors the album title itself, ‘Something Grand’. ****
Review by Pete Feenstra
Josh Taerk’s latest Sunday Session was streamed on Sunday 20 March 2022 at 21:00 GMT (16:00 EST). Josh’s next session is Sunday 22 May.
Check out previous videos here: https://www.facebook.com/getreadytorockradio
David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 GMT, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 8 May 2022.
UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020 and 2021 Finalist) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 GMT as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 3 May 2022.
How to Listen Live?
Click the programming image at the top of the page (top right of page if using desktop)
Get Ready to ROCK! Radio is also in iTunes under Internet Radio/Classic Rock
Listen in via the Tunein app and search for “Get Ready to ROCK!” and save as favourite.
More information and links at our radio website where you can listen again to shows via the presenter pages: getreadytorockradio.com
Power Plays w/c 16 May 2022 (Mon-Fri)
FLOYA The Hymn (Arising Empire)
VEXES The Dream Disease (indie)
NEAR DUSK The Way It Goes (Iron Head Records)
IN SEARCH OF SUN Make Me Crazy (indie)
WALLNER VAIN Deceive Her (indie)
FIGHT THE FADE Where You Go I Go (FiXT)
MARATON Non-Euclidean Heart (Indie Recordings)
Featured Albums w/c 16 May (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 TERRA NOVA Ring That Bell (Lion Music)
12:00-13:00 FOZZY Boombox (Mascot)
14:00-16:00 MICHAEL McDERMOTT St.Paul’s Boulevard (Pauper Sky Records)
Tweets by Get Ready to ROCK!