Review: Philipp Fankhauser – Love Man Riding
Posted on: Monday, Jul 21, 2008
“Love Man Riding”
(CrossCut Records – ccd 11098)
Here’s another classy offering from the good folk at CrossCut Records – Swiss vocalist, guitarist and songwriter, Philipp Fankhauser’s eleventh album release – produced by Dennis Walker, who worked on many of Robert Cray’s albums. Indeed, much of this great release has echoes of the soulful side of Cray, with a further link to him, with his ex-bass player Richard Cousins in the band, and his current keyboard man, Jim Pugh, playing on a couple of tracks.
Philipp Fankhauser has a most impressive voice, both emotional and expressive, as heard on the opening title track and the lovely “I’m Finished Here”, embellished by a top horn section, with sax solo by Michael Vannice. Very much a storyteller, his songs tell of lost love, loneliness and some of the everyday hazards of modern life.
The late Johnny ‘Clyde’ Copeland’s “I Got A Love” is a quite gorgeous ballad – quite fitting to be on the album as Fankhauser spent many years in the US as the late bluesman’s vocalist – lovely acoustic guitar and dulcimer on this by Stephen Eicher.
Some of the songs have a distinct Latin feel – apart from the blues, Philipp Fankhauser has a love of bossa nova, and the masters such as Tom Jobin, Joao Gilberto and Gilberto Gil. “Rio De Janeiro Blue” as you would expect from the title is very much in this vein, as is “Lonely In This Town”, which has a Santana-feel, with dynamite guitar and some exquisite Hammond B-3 from the guesting Jim Pugh.
“You Caught Me Off My Guard” is a blues that rides on a great groove, horns to the fore again; “I Didn’t See (The Best Of You)” is another ballad with another impassioned smooth vocal; “Are You Outta Your Head?”, a co-write with Dennis Walker, amongst others, fairly rattles along with Michael Vannice’s sax shining again.
I must confess to never having heard of Fankhauser prior to this release, but it is safe to say he is another addition to the growing list of excellent European bluesmen, and his multi-national band are of the top calibre – another of this year’s best releases to date.
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