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Vantage Point

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Album Review

Now six albums into his career, it doesn't seem likely that Chris Duarte will ever quite shake off comparisons to Stevie Ray Vaughan and, to a lesser extent, Jimi Hendrix — not because those comparisons are lazy critical shorthand but because Duarte continues to find more to mine in the tones and licks of those twin Stratocaster gods. On Vantage Point he relies rather heavily on Texas shuffles and slow, elongated 12-bar blues, so the scales are tipped slightly in SRV's favor, but Duarte does manage to fuse his two inspirations on "She Don't Live Here Anymore," which comes across as a Stevie Ray spin on "Voodoo Chile." Of course, Vaughan covered that on Couldn't Stand the Weather, finding his own voice within Hendrix, and Duarte follows his idol's lead here, creating his own sound out of his inspirations. At first, the similarities to Stevie Ray can be overwhelming — Duarte loves that big, clean out-of-phase sound that SRV did — but that fades away as you concentrate on how Duarte spins away from that, either in the funky, Jeff Beck fusion of "Woodpecker," or how liquid his leads on "More Boogie" are. Throughout this record, Duarte's playing is this exceptional, but the best moments here are when his writing is up to his playing, as it is on the old-style roadhouse shuffle "Satisfy." These are the moments that suggest his growth as a writer is starting to match his growth as a player.


Born: February 16, 1963 in San Antonio, TX

Genre: Blues

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

Austin-based guitarist, songwriter, and singer Chris Duarte has often been compared with the late Stevie Ray Vaughan. It's heady stuff for the musician, who plays a rhythmic style of Texas blues-rock that is at times reminiscent of Vaughan's sound, and at other times reminiscent of Johnny Winter. The truth is, Duarte has his own sound that draws on elements of jazz, blues, and rock & roll. Although he is humbled by the comparisons with the late Vaughan, the San Antonio-raised musician began playing...
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Vantage Point, Chris Duarte
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