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Relentless

Eric Gales

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Album Review

Eric Gales' 1991 Elektra debut appeared when he was 15 years old, since that time, he has been compared mercilessly to Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix remains a primary influence on Gales, but the guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter has now released a total of eight albums and, when taken as a whole, his body of work represents something beyond it. It’s been said that Gales breaks no new ground as a guitarist. So what? How many musicians do? The fact that he can play as well as he does should be enough. Relentless employs the power trio format (with a backing vocalist). Its 13 originals utilize electric Chicago and modern Texas-style blues, psych, hard rock, and to a lesser degree, funk. As its title suggests, Relentless is comprised of intense music. There are no ballads. Drummer Aaron Haggerty replaces Jeremy Colson, but bassist Steve Evans and backing vocalist Jesse Bradman remain. The set begins in modern Chicago blues mode with the boasting “Bad Lawbreaker.” Here, Gales has scaled back some of the busy-ness in his phrasing, preferring to let notes hang just a little bit longer for more sting. And they do, even in uptempo mode. This is also true in the strutting Texas boogie on “The Finest Club in Town.” “Draggin’ Me Down” is a dynamic hard rocker with blazing extended guitar soloing and interesting, textured production. “The Liar,” with Gales' use of wah-wah and knotty phrasing, is one of the more compelling cuts here; it’s a wonderfully crafted song with smoking fills and a tight, blazing solo. “If You Knew the Truth” is jaunty, funky blues, with some popping drum work from Haggerty. The album concludes with “Universal Peacepipe.” Despite its corny title (he really needs to work on them all around), it’s a well-crafted tune; everything is in balance with well-placed dynamics and instrumental lyricism that don't exclude gnarly fills and an overdriven guitar solo. Gales’ fans will no doubt delight in Relentless; while it undoubtedly displays all his trademarks, it also reveals growth in both his writing and in his abilities a bandleader, all the while revealing one of the baddest guitar slingers around.

Biography

Born: 1975 in Memphis, TN

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Blues guitar phenom Eric Gales was born and raised in Memphis, learning to play at age four from older brothers Eugene and Manuel in imitation of their upside-down, left-handed style (a tradition actually passed down from their grandfather, Dempsey Garrett Sr., who was known to jam with the likes of Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf). Winning his first blues contest at 11, four years later Eric signed to Elektra to issue his 1991 debut LP, recorded with Eugene on bass; Picture of a Thousand Faces followed...
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Relentless, Eric Gales
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