added: 13 Jul 2014
// release date: 25 Aug 2014 // label: Provogue
reviewer: Andy Snipper
I really don’t get why Philip Sayce isn’t one of the biggest names in Blues/Rock ‘cause he has got it all going on. He is a hellacious guitarist, get a fine voice and a real sense of funk about him – he is also good looking (for the laydeez) and louder than hell (for the guys). I have seen him live a few times and he belts out a great set of originals and covers and I’ve never seen the crowd leave unhappy yet he isn’t up there with the Bonamassas, Trouts and Oli Browns.
This album deserves to be the making of him. From the opening stomp of ‘Tom Devil’ featuring some positively psyched wah wah and a huge chorus he plays with massive passion and power and there isn’t a track on the album that doesn’t drip with emotion and sass. The production all through, courtesy of Dave Cobb (Rival Sons & California Breed) is superb, adding little elements and creating a complete album that definitely pulls all of Sayce’ talents into one space.
Sayce mixes in some originals as well as some great covers – his version of Lowell George’s ‘Sailing Shoes’ is epic and he rips out some stunning soul on a cover of Don Covay’s ‘The Blues Ain’t Nothin’ But A Good Woman On Your Mind’ – and there is a real sense of joy and freedom all through the album. When he slows it down as he does on his own ‘Fade Into You’ he hits you squarely in the soul with delicious playing and great subtlety: a sense of a man finally finding a place to hide from all the hits and strikes of life and played with massive emotion.
Little Richards’ ‘Green Power’ gets a Hendrix makeover and the keyboard suggests producer Dave Cobb is having a great impact on the album. “There’s no better rock and roll singer than Little Richard,” Sayce says. “I just wanted to have fun with ‘Green Power’ and do it justice. It’s a song everyone should know. During the recording I was staying at a hotel in Nashville that Little Richard spends a lot of time in. I was in the lobby one day and I saw him and he figured out that I’m in the same industry as him, he acknowledged me and that was cool. It was no small feat to try doing a Little Richard song. It’s pretty much a live take. It happened so quickly. (Producer) Dave (Cobb) said ‘that’s a take’ after the second try. It just worked out immediately.” He follows immediately after that with a version of Graham Nash’s ‘Better Days’ that leaves you jaw dropped and in love with music again. “Better Days’ is such a beautiful composition,” Sayce says. “That song is so underground and it connected with the head space I was in. To me, it’s about how this business takes a toll on your psyche. It’s an unbelievably heavy song.”
The album finishes on three tracks that are as good as anything I’ve heard this year: ‘Triumph’ has the feel of The Who’s ‘See Me Feel Me’ but a guitar line that most axemen would kill to produce while ‘Light Em Up’ brings back the stomp and power that opened the album. He closes with a beautiful version of Thomas Dorsey’s ‘Peace In The Valley’ that brings in the gospel and the Blues and leaves you uplifted and raring for more.
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