Reviews: Gary Fletcher Band – Giant From The Blue; Gary Fletcher – In Solitary

Posted on: Thursday, Sep 26, 2013

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Gary Fletcher Band – Giant From The Blue

(Arone 1301)

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Gary Fletcher – In Solitary

(Arone 1302)

Here’s not one, but two new releases from The Blues Band stalwart Gary Fletcher . . . one with his band, and the other, as the title suggests, a solo offering – and very pleasant they are both are!

“Giant From The Blue” sees Fletcher with his band, namely ex-Dire Straits drummer Pick Withers; Jack Fletcher, his son, on bass; Steve Ling on guitar; as well as the man himself on vocals and guitar. The album consists entirely of self-penned songs, and he has called in some excellent guests, namely British jazz trumpet giant Guy Barker, Nine Below Zero harmonica man Mark Feltham and backing vocals from Kokomo. The tracks were cut in 2011 but only saw limited release then.

The music is a gentle mix of sweet, rolling melodic rock and blues, all beautifully played and sung with no unrequired histrionics from those involved. Treats here are the bluesy slide-driven “User Man”, enhanced by Feltham’s tough-toned harmonica playing; Guy Barker shows off his prowess on the lengthy “It’s Not My Call” . . . imagine a jazzy Dire Straits and you’re there! The driving “Can’t Live With, Can’t Live Without” recalls the heyday of The Blues Band, with some more impressive slide guitar work.

The album closes with the stripped-down “That’s My Way”, giving way to a ‘hidden track’, a long, rambling blues with more great trumpet from Guy Barker.

“In Solitary” by contrast was recorded ‘live in the studio’, with just Gary Fletcher’s acoustic guitars and vocals and as well as his own fine songs, contains three covers – two blues ‘chestnuts’ in the form of Willie Dixon’s “The Same Thing” and Blind Willie Johnson’s “Nobody’s Fault” – highlighting Fletcher’s prowess on different tunings and also resonator guitar; the third cover being Chuck Berry’s “Maybellene”.

Things get off to a lovely gentle start with the heartfelt “If You Were Me”; the gorgeous finger-picked instrumental “Affric” is quite enchanting; and also among the original tunes the slide blues of “Delta T79” is engaging; with “Fall From Grace Blues” highlighting Fletcher’s very fine voice, and with more nice finger-picked acoustic guitar.

Two very fine releases from a seasoned-pro of the British music scene, with fine, sympathetic musicians on the band offering, with strong and well delivered songs . . . and both well worthy of investigation . . .

GRAHAME RHODES

www.garyfletchermusic.co.uk

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