Album Reviews

Hamish Anderson

Trouble

Artist:     Hamish Anderson

Album:     Trouble

Label:     Kobalt/AWAL

Release Date:     10/21/2016

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Another publication put into words much better than this writer can why so many blues-rock albums escape notice. “From ponytails to tortured “guitar face” expressions to chord progressions everyone has heard a million times, there are plenty of reasons to be leery of blues-rock singer/songwriters.” I would add “overwrought, pretentious vocals” and blues-rock bands to this list too. Yet, as with any genre, some talents get through this writer’s gauntlet and deserve some attention. Australian Hamish Anderson is being hailed in many corners as “the next big thing” in blues-rock. Let’s just say that his debut is an auspicious beginning. He has plenty of help. High profile producers like Jim Scott (Tom Petty, Tedeschi Trucks Band, etc.) don’t often lend their talents to fledgling artists; they are adept at detecting talent when they see it. Additionally, the pedigrees of the backing musicians here run from Los Lobos (Steve Berlin) to Gary Clark Jr. (Johnny Radelat), to John Mayer (Aaron Sterling) and many more. Also, he’s already had some major exposure, having opened for Los Lobos, the Rides and Robert Cray.

To be fair, the album leans more toward rock than blues, and is a bit uneven, but has enough standout moments to reflect the praise that Anderson is receiving. The opening title track rocks like the Stones, with a heavy bass line from Chris Bruce. The other single, “Hold On Me,” is about being taken over– actually possessed by some inexplicable force. It’s the first time Anderson used horns on a track, bringing in that deep baritone sax from Steve Berlin. “18 Days” and “Am I A Good Man” are slow blues with string-bending, economical guitar solos. On the bitterly angry “Never See You Again,” his vocals stay grounded rather than resorting to screaming like others might. In fact, for the most part, Anderson plays with a healthy level of restraint unlike many in the genre. His electric guitar solos focus on the right notes rather than a machine gun spray of notes. He does let his slide guitar go a bit wild on “Working Blues,” somewhat reminiscent of the early Peter Green/Fleetwood Mac sound. He saves his most soaring, full-toned guitar solo for the closer, “My Sweetheart You.”

Anderson is only 24. With an interesting blend of blues, pop and rock he seems more focused on songs than guitar slinging. Watch out for him.

-Jim Hynes

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