Man of Many Blues
Smoke Ring Records
Paul Gabriel’s professional career began in 1969. He recorded three albums with Harry Chapin in the 70’s; and three albums with the four piece blues band “Blue in The Face”; including their self-titled album released in 1987. In 1992 he appeared on Rory Block’s Grammy nominated “Mama’s Blues”. Gabriel toured with Michael Bolton and didn’t release his own solo debut “Fate” until 2001. Gabriel’s guitar influences include BB King, Freddie King, T-Bone Walker, Michael Bloomfield and Duke Robillard. In 2007 Gabriel released two albums including the critically acclaimed “Shuffle the Deck” with influences ranging from Magic Sam, to Duke Ellington and Count Basie. In 2013 Gabriel recorded “What’s The Chance” produced by Robillard and it resulted in a 2014 Blues Music Award nomination.
“Man of Many Blues” is Gabriel’s follow-up recording once again produced by Robillard. The current lineup includes Gabriel, guitar and vocals; Robillard, acoustic and electric guitars; former Johnny Winter band member Scott Spray, Jay Willie Band member Paul Opalach, or Executive Producer Frank Davis, bass; and Robillard band members Mark Teixeira, drums, and Bruce Bears, piano and Hammond organ. From Roomful of Blues is the horn section of Mark Earley, tenor and baritone sax, and Doug James, baritone sax. The backing vocalist is Christine Ohlman. Special guests include soul jazz organist Lonnie Gasperini; former “Blue in The Face” vocalist Howard Eldridge, and harmonica ace Sugar Ray Norcia. All of the songs were written or co-written by Gabriel. The album was recorded at the Lake West Studio in Rhode Island by Jack Gauthier.
“I Feel Good” has got a modified second line beat on this horn fueled opener. The song is about Memphis perhaps during the International Blues Challenge. “Music in the air, blues everywhere I feel good…back in my room, there’s knock on my door, it’s a face from long ago…down on Beale that music’s gone wild everyone there is just a blues child”. Gabriel’s guitar and vocal are infectious. Gasparini takes a great organ solo.
“Maybe We Can Talk Awhile” is a great vocal from Gabriel with some jazzy guitar from Robillard and Bears on piano. “She said stop over later babe, maybe we can talk awhile.” “Cold, Cold, Cold” is another great tune with a tenor intro from Earley. “I walked right in, not that anyone cared, and I felt that chill right away…that room was cold, cold, cold, like I never felt before and I never gone back anymore”. The production includes a backing vocal from Ohlman. These are two outstanding songs.
“It’ll Be That Way Sometime” is a lament about the singer and his relationship with his father “you did nothing wrong it just be that way sometime”. Norcia lays down some sweet harp with another background vocal by Ohlman. “No Finance, No Romance” is a song written with Vince Cleary and reprised from the 1987 “Blue in The Face” album. It is sung by Eldridge and features the horn section.
“Blues For Georgia” is an instrumental dedicated to Georgia Lewis, a gospel and blues vocalist, Gabriel had the pleasure of working with. It is a groove that slowly boils with great guitar from Gabriel, Gasparini’s soulful organ and Bears piano.
“Second Story Man” is a fabulous narrative about a slick chick and the time she met her match. Gabriel’s guitar line is fetching. The title track is another outstanding composition “in the face of temptation, he did not fall he was a Man of Many Blues”.
“Face Full of Frown” she’s gone downtown…and when she comes back baby, I get a face full of frown”. “On That Train” is a tune co-written with Howard Russell, featuring Earley’s tenor and some great production from Robillard. “Just A Bitterness” is another introspective blues featuring guitarist Robillard and the horns. “Dear John Letter” features the lyric “as I got a little closer there’s no doubt in my mind the someone I saw was you”.
Gabriel is a great guitarist. Perhaps more importantly he is a great songwriter and vocalist. Robillard is the perfect producer for the multi-talented Gabriel. This is a recording that will make you re-listen to the last one too. Gabriel is a man of many hues.