Review: Phil Gates – Addicted to the Blues
Posted on: Saturday, Jun 5, 2010
“Addicted to the Blues”
(Setag Music CDBBY5)
This is a recording that doesn’t hit you in the face and is none the worse for that. That’s not to say its delights aren’t obvious, just that they are a little more refined. There are no histrionics and no idea overstays its welcome.
Gates is a sharp guitar player and while his solos may swagger he’s much more likely to impress with his subtle slide and picking prowess than with his power.
This confident set is not only all self-penned but Gates plays all guitars and nearly all the keyboards, bass and drums. Even when he brings in guests such as Eddie Baytos to add appropriate accordion to flavour the New Orleans funk of the opener “Get Around To Me” it’s still nicely underdone. It’s almost as if Gates is constantly reminding us “hey, I’m in control here, I know what I’m doing.”
There’s swing, shuffle, funk and blues aplenty. “Evening Train” is a highlight, a fast-paced driving train blues which heads almost into country territory with its infectious beat and, almost elegantly, features a couple of solos showing Gates’ undoubted skill, fluid not furious.
The title track immediately slots into an insistent groove over which Gates again showcases his blues guitar prowess.
The set’s finale sees Gates in far different territory with “The Wisdom”, a heartfelt homage to the legacy of departed family and friends.. The backing vocals create almost a gospel feel and we’re almost back In New Orleans with the syncopated shuffle of the backbeat. Again beautifully understated, the guitar work is a treat and can only be described as featherlight.