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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Texas '51 Records artist: Van Wilks - 21st Century Blues - New Release Review

I just received the newest release, 21st Century Blues, by Van Wilks and it's quite good. Opening with Strange Girl you immediately hear strong,Texas blues rock framing and pop styling. Singer, songwriter, guitarist, Van Wilks is joined by Tommy Taylor on drums, Reggie Witty on bass and Billy Mason on keys for a clever opener. Billy Gibbons penned, Drive By Lover, has a lot of the drive of ZZ Top and there is actually quite a bit of similarity between Wilks' and Gibbon's voices. With a driving bass line and fluid blues guitar riffs, Wilks shows his stuff. On Golddigger, the band has a strong swagger and warm guitar rhythm. This is a super track and sans a few hot pinched harmonics and other stylistic guitar tricks, this could be ZZ Top. Very nice! One of my favorite tracks on the release, Just Walk Away, is a bluesy ballad with a lush melodic melody and nice guitar underpinnings. There's A Sin In There Somewhere has a much more primitive feel on the intro with an acoustic resonator and vocal but cranking to a full blown rocker. Cutting loose with super bass runs and hot rock guitar riffs, this track is smoking. Title track, 21st Century Blues, has a pop style melody with a strong chorded structure. Wilks keeps the overall guitar work and airy with harmonics and light slide. Who's Foolin' Who is a strong rocker with a cool hook. Never shy on interesting guitar riffs and solid rhythm from Dave Ray on bass and Charlie Fountain on drums, this track is consistent with the overall feel of the release. Hot Texas rock. She Makes Me Crazy is a straight forward rocker with additional guitar work from Christopher Cross and Manford Milligan on vocal. Fluid guitar runs, drums by Scott Linningham and bass by Andy Salmon and keys by Stefano Intelisano, another solid rocker. Quiet ballad, If I Were A Rich Man, shows off some of the most sensuous guitar riffs on the release, with howling slide work and easy paced vocals. Can't Stop Thinking is really straight down the middle pop rock in the vein of 38 special or such. It has a solid beat, a catchy tune (and you can dance to it) with some hot guitar riffs to close it. Living On Borrowed Time is a polished rocker with twin guitar leads and a solid melody. Wilks takes his guitar for a nice walk on this one backed by Tommy Taylor on drums and Reggie Witty on bass, with nice vocal harmonies between Wilks and Witty. Wrapping the release is Midnight Crossing, a surreal track with lots of space and guitar reverb and added percussion by Wilks . A cool melody on this one with only the voice of a Mexican Angel, Maria Estela Rafffone, creates a cool and unique closer.

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