Artist: Paul Reddick
Album: Ride the One
Label: Stony Plain
Release Date: 05/20/2016
Typically you wouldn’t associate the term “wall of sound” with blues and certainly not with Paul Reddick’s previous releases produced by Colin Linden. The sound here, with production from fellow Canadian Colin Cripps of Blue Rodeo, is as dense as Linden’s were full of open spaces. Think of the heavy Mississippi Hill Country sound. Maybe this is the Canadian answer. Reddick’s poetic lyrics are often backed by a thunderous three guitar attack, including Steve Mariner from the highly acclaimed Canadian band Monkey Junk and producer Cripps. As I struggle for an apt comparison, I’m thinking of the roots-rock band Drive-By Truckers who also have some lyrical gems buried amidst a triple guitar attack. Reddick is a bluesman but his blues are unique. As he prominently states on the cover “Blues is a beautiful landscape”, he tips you off – this is a different ride.
The title, Ride the One, is a musical reference to the hypnotic grooves explored as the deep rhythm, Reddick’s intense gruff singing and blaring harmonica create this atmosphere that I would characterize as a blues “wall of sound” rather than Reddick’s more gentle sounding “landscape.” There’s a robust energy throughout these 11 originals, but Reddick does slow the pace down for gems like “Mourning Dove” and “Love and Never Know.” The opening to “Gotta Find A” will likely remind you of The Allmans’ “Midnight Rider.” The guitar solo in “Watersmooth” offers some rare, clean musical moments.
Reddick albums don’t come along too often. It’s been eight years since his brilliant Sugar Bird. The Canadian music site FYI Music News said this about Reddick after interviewing him, “Ensuring the long-term health of blues in Canada has become a passion for Paul Reddick, and the motivation behind his creation of the Cobalt Prize, aimed at celebrating songwriting innovation within the form.” Reddick elaborated this way, “to encourage people to write blues songs-songs that expand, explore and refresh the blues tradition, to broaden the possibilities, assumptions and expectations and audience for the blues.” Listen with an open mind. Paul Reddick never fails to disappoint. This might take some getting used to relative to his previous releases. Don’t fret. Play it loud and soak it in.
– Jim Hynes