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The Dance Goes On

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Album Review

The Ford Blues Band guitarist steps center-stage for his second solo album and the impressive results show he should consider leading his own band full-time. Since The Dance Goes On was recorded in Germany and California with musicians from both locales, Volker Strifler connects his disparate influences into a seamless whole. His hollow body solos are as impressive as you'd expect, but it's his voice that is the real revelation here. He sings in a confident but not brash style that perfectly suits the horn-infused blues, R&B, surf and soul that dominate this release. Although the project is blues based, it is not like the straight-ahead Chicago blues favored by his other band. There are only two covers and they are both from the Willie Dixon-by-way-of-Howlin' Wolf songbook; an acoustic "Evil" — the album's only entirely unplugged tune — and a lowdown version of "Spoonful." They are placed next to each other in the mid-section of the disc as sort of a detour to the more soul influenced bulk of this material. Tunes such as the horn driven "Somebody Help Me" and "Downtown Living" are Memphis-styled R&B with chunky backbeats and Strifler's husky vocals bringing the emotion. "On a Day Like Today" and "Angel" are the album's primary singer/songwriter tunes. They effortlessly shift from acoustic to electric then back again, showing Strifler's talents also extend to arrangements and writing quality melodies. Although most tracks feature solos, the songs are not built around them and could stand on their own without Strifler's tasteful leads. Two instrumentals, "Constantine" and "Shuffelupagus" let the guitarist stretch his chops. The former finds him in reverbed spaghetti western territory while the latter is an album-closing jazzy shuffle with a slight Wes Montgomery feel. It wraps up a tremendously satisfying, eclectic and often surprising collection which shows that the quadruple-threat artist (guitarist, songwriter, vocalist and producer) might eclipse the Ford Blues Band in popularity if he chooses to make this side project a permanent gig.

The Dance Goes On, Volker Strifler Band
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