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Coming Up for Air

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Album Review

Perfectly acknowledging the whirlwind that inevitably happens when you're heir apparent to a litany of great bluesmen at the not-so-tender-anymore age of 22, Davy Knowles chooses an album title that sums up what it's like to follow the frenzy with another great gust of compelling songs and exciting studio activity. It's hard to tell the Isle of Man singer/guitarist's story without dropping some classic rock names, since he and his band, Back Door Slam, have played concerts with everyone from the Who to Buddy Guy and George Thorogood and toured with Kid Rock, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Gov't Mule. While many wanted to share stages with this powerful vocalist and brilliant axeman, one legend went a step further. Harking back to his blues-rock roots in Humble Pie, Peter Frampton makes Coming Up for Air his first foray into producing another artist's entire project. The set gets off to a welcome start, simmering then explosive, with the Clapton meets Skynyrd-flavored midtempo title track and the poignant story-song "Riverbed," which are both potential old-school anthem jam-rockers. While Knowles wrote these and a batch of other originals himself, his collaborations are noteworthy. He wrote the sparse, raw ballad "Saving Myself," a low-key ode to lending a helping hand, with Nashville songwriter/guitarist Gary Nicholson, and runs the gamut from sensual and slow-burning to feisty and rocking on his two cuts penned with Frampton, the moody, emotionally searing "You Can't Take This Back" and punchier, blistering guitar-driven "Keep on Searching" (which features Frampton on rhythm and lead guitars and backing vocals). Duetting brilliantly with Jonatha Brooke on her wistful, harmony-driven "Taste of Danger," Knowles also shows a penchant for the jazzier side of the blues, inviting Christian McBride (upright bass) and Joe Sample (Hammond B-3) along for the ride. Perfectly tying past and present together and bridging the generations between Frampton and his contemporary equivalent in Knowles is a sizzling cover of George Harrison's "Hear Me Lord," a choir-infused prayer-anthem whose choir punctuates the message as everything builds to a scorching guitar battle — as Frampton comes alive and passes the torch to the new generation. Anecdotally, Frampton also played on the original Harrison track from All Things Must Pass. Blues-rock fans of all generations will love this brilliant second studio outing from Knowles and his slammin' Back Door Slam.


Formed: 2006 in Isle Of Man

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

British blues-rockers Back Door Slam boast a tough, streetwise sound that recalls veteran U.K. blues players such as Eric Clapton, Peter Green, and John Mayall, though these young guitar slingers represent a new generation -- when bassist Adam Jones joined the group in 2006, guitarist and singer Davy Knowles and drummer Ross Doyle were all of 20 years old, while Jones himself was just 19. The members of Back Door Slam grew up in the tiny seaside community of the Isle of Man, and Knowles decided he...
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Coming Up for Air, Back Door Slam
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