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Despite appearing on a host of Best Blues Albums of 2009 lists, U.K. guitarist/vocalist Ian Siegal does not consider his fourth project to be a blues release, at least not in the traditional sense. But other related tag lines such as blues-rock, pop, or even roots rock don't adequately describe Siegal's music, either. It's better not trying to put a tag on it and just savor his tough combination of blues, rock, pop, and light funk delivered with passion and intensity. Although he is a solid lead guitarist, especially on slide, there are few instances where he solos extensively on these ten tracks. Rather, Siegal relies on taut arrangements, gruff vocals, and sympathetic production from Nugene labelmate and backing guitarist Matt Schofield, to push his sharply written songs into a variety of dusky genres. Like many U.K. roots artists, he finds inspiration in American music. This album touches on Dr. John-influenced swamp rock ("Stealing from the Queen"), Southern soul ("Take a Walk in the Wilderness"), and even folk/country ("The Bleeding Cowboy's Lament"). Siegal succeeds in everything he touches because his lyrical and melodic songwriting is sharp and memorable, not simply a framework to hang solos on. Listen to "Quarantine" as it unpredictably shifts time signatures halfway through to move into a Beatles "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" groove, only to revert back to the peppy rock that it kicked off with. Songs such as "Kingdom Come" grind along on a tight riff with Siegal growling lyrics, and borrowing a wordless lick from Cream's version of "Rollin' and Tumblin'" as the band urges him along. He chooses to record with his road duo, enhanced by Schofield and keyboardist Jonny Henderson, and their obvious skills to react to his cues add additional sparks to music that is already highly charged. Siegal's rugged voice perfectly complements songs that spit fire and brimstone ("cast me in shadow/baptize me in light") such as the lyrical boasting in the propulsive Little Feat-styled "Hard Pressed." He closes with a solo acoustic Delta-styled tune, very much in the shadow of Rory Gallagher. It displays yet another side to this talented artist who revels in his diverse niche and digs in deep on this impressive disc.

Broadside, Ian Siegal
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