Sunday, January 15, 2017

Dan Patlansky is not so introverted


Introvertigo is another giant step in Patlansky’s journey away from blues and towards blues-inflected hard rock. This old-fashioned approach of 10-songs-in-36-minutes album is the follow up to the excellent Dear Silence Thieves (2014). The riffs (from the opening cut “Run” onwards) are huge, the sound powerful and the rocking hard. The Stevie Ray Vaughanisms are almost undetectable (“Poor Old John” has the closest remnants) and there seems to be much more of a Jimi Hendrix thing going on, particularly on “Bet On Me” with an intro that sounds like a repurposed version of the intro to “Little Wing.” The tasty electronic organ and big chorus make it an affective, memorable tune.

“Loosen up the Grip” is the big, soaring, emotive ballad and “Still Wanna Be Your Mean” is the big slow blues. These two tracks alone are more than enough evidence of Patlansky’s maturity as songwriter who now knows that tunes and hooks are important, not merely arrangements and virtuoso guitar solos.

“Heartbeat” opens with a “whoo hoo” hook that is copied from somewhere else (but that I cannot quire recall now) and has an intriguing, atypical rhythmic opening before settling into the big rock riff.

The two least effective tunes are “Sonova Faith” and “Western Decay,” coincidentally the most philosophical musings on the record, which rely on their arrangements and the playing of the musicians to carry them. This is also the case with “Queen Puree”, which has some indelible guitaring without which the song would be pointless sludge.

On album at least, Patlansky is no longer overtly a bluesman.  Either he has followed the path of progression, like that of the blues bands of the late Sixties blues boom who went from purism to hard rock or heavy metal, or he has realised that blues rock is a more commercial prospect than straight-ahead blues.  The good news, though, is that he has found song writing form and has learnt to be concise in his arrangements and playing, and has learnt about hooks that make the songs memorable. Dear Silence Thieves and Introvertigo represent a purple patch of enjoyable creativity after the rather dire 20 Stones and Wooden Thoughts.

Dan Patlansky has upped his game and if he can maintain this level, greatness awaits.  For far too long he has shone as master guitarist with the emphasis on technique over content; over his two most recent albums he has shown us that he can make consistently good records that celebrate the strength of the material and do not rely on his instrumental prowess only.

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