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Upside Down

Aynsley Lister

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Album Review

When a blues player starts branching out (as they tend to do after spending a certain number of years playing variations on the same chord progression and lyrical theme), the purists start grumbling almost immediately. If British singer, guitarist, and songwriter Aynsley Lister has been taking any flack for his gradual drift away from tradition, he's shown exceptionally good sense in ignoring it: his fourth studio album shows the young man to have developed a remarkably mature sense of songcraft, a richly powerful voice, and a guitar style that offers plenty of technical virtuosity without any overweening self-indulgence. The fact that he makes no attempt to sound like an 80-year-old African-American sets him apart from the blues pack as well: his voice is surprisingly refined, and his singing style is refreshingly unaffected — notice how soulful yet unpretentious he sounds on the lovely ballad "Always Tomorrow" and on the impressively nuanced midtempo rocker "Wherever I Am." Best of all, though, is the climactic album closer, a barnburning neo-blues workout titled "Falling Down," a song that pays explicit tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan while simultaneously staking out his own personal stylistic territory. At 33 years of age, Aynsley Lister seems to have already absorbed a lifetime's worth of taste, scholarship, and chops.

Upside Down, Aynsley Lister
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