You know this will be a different kind of blues record as it opens with the slow blues “Lady Luck,’ suggesting a confidence that few blues guitarists have as not many would dare to open with a simmering slow one. Tom Gilberts is a master of tone and nuance and is guided by one of the best guitarists in the genre, Terry Robb, who serves as producer. Gilberts plays with a trio, Dave Captein on bass and Brian Foxworth on drums. This is not your loud power trio typically associated with blues-rock acts, although they can play in that vein, should the tune and tempo call for it. They serve more as a supportive, restrained rhythm section, not unlike a jazz trio.
The attraction of this recording is clearly Gilberts’ fine guitar playing. His vocals are rather monotone but have just enough soul to carry the tunes, all of which are originals. His strength lies more in instrumentals such as “Sun Vibe” with melodic guitar that cuts into blues-rock territory with finesse rather than screeching volume as the rhythm section drives the groove beautifully. Gilberts displays come nice slide work on the title track while
“Dark Clouds” and “The North Fork” have a jazzy feel, with skittering drums and Gilberts’ soulful playing. Gilberts, true to the album title, subscribes to the “it’s not how many notes you play, it’s about the right notes” style of guitar playing, with judicious use of space to amplify those right notes.
His instrumental “My Paper Bag” is another groove piece, Texas style. The vocal “You Missed Me,” is a shuffle while the mid-tempo instrumental “Brown’s Camp” is yet another example of his guitar tone and facile phrasing. “Nighttime” is a smoldering slow one with Gilberts’ guitar and vocal setting a relaxing mood. That changes abruptly with the closer
“The Fuzz,” distorted guitar tones in Hendrix style, the only rock charged tune on the album, as if he just let the temptation get the best of him. Yes, this does sound like a power trio. They just want to go out in blazing fashion. With all due respect, however, we could do without that one. The others are just full of great tone, grooves, and finesse – indicating that’s the way Gilberts likes to play – to his strengths.
- Jim Hynes