Album Reviews

Van Wilks

21st Century Blues

Artist:     Van Wilks

Album:     21st Century Blues

Label:     Texas '51 Records

Release Date:     01/29/2016


Van Wilks’ 21st Century Blues proves that the bluesy rockin’ guitarist still delivers an inescapable rush of adrenaline, like a fast-moving train, across several major musical landscapes. The non-traditional Texas musician, who began his career during the British invasion of the 1960s, has since toured with numerous trendsetting and runaway hit bands, from Aerosmith to ZZ Top. Chet Himes produced Wilks’ sixth solo album and first in 10 years at two Austin-area studios, Relentless Ranch and Chicken Run, with the help of Kickstarter funding. Lone Star-sized special guests, Grammy award-winning Christopher Cross and locally celebrated dynamic vocalist Malford Milligan, both contribute on “She Makes Me Crazy.” Wilks also revives “Drive By Lover,” the song he co-wrote with Billy F. Gibbons for ZZ Top’s La Futura in 2012. “There’s a Sin in There Somewhere,” pays homage to a 1978 scratchy vinyl recording of Huddie “Lead Belly” Leadbetter with Wilks performing on a 1929 National Duolian Dobro amplified through Marshall Stacks. The closing, “Midnight Crossing,” with haunting vocals whispered by Maria Estella Raffone, completes the album’s driving locomotive theme. Wilks, named best blues-rock band four years in a row by The Austin Chronicle’s music polls, as yet shows no signs of slowing down.

– Donna Marie Miller

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