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Davie Thomas – Road to the Blues

Davie Thomas
Road to the Blues

Back in March of 2021, when I did a review of “One More Mile” – Dave Thomas’ first release in five years – I stated that Dave had claimed to have “two more releases soon to come” and here he is, just a short fifteen months later, with the last (*) of the three. It’s titled Road To The Blues and it features: Dave Thomas on lead and backing vocals, guitars and harmonica; Steve Jinks on bass, drums & percussion, and backing vocals; James Goodwin on piano; Phil Marshall on saxophone; Gareth Tucker on harmonica; Michael Smith on saxophone and John Thirkell on trumpet. Of the disc’s thirteen tracks, eleven are Dave Thomas originals and/or compilations.

When whichever side you get out of bed from turns out to habitually be the bad side; your days start out bad and progressively gets worse; and you feel like you should just stay in bed and pull the covers over your head; you’re surely on the “Road To The Blues”. On this opening and title track, Dave will tell you about that and then some. Musically, it’s a smooth shuffle highlighted by masterful piano playing from James Goodwin; excellent bass and drum work from the one-man rhythm section – Dave’s main man and co-producer – Steve Jinks; and an outstanding vocal description of what it’s like to travel down the road to the blues.

“The Lady’s Not For Turning” is Dave’s way of saying “she’s a keeper”. Once you hear him describe her, you’ll get why. With the fabulous rumba groove Steve’s got going on with the percussion, and the sexy piano and guitar leads by James and Dave, this one’s a sure dance floor filler. Perhaps, like Dave, you’ll find a partner whose wiggle stops street cars in their tracks and shimmers like a willow tree.

I’m going off on a tangent here, so be prepared. Having just seen my all-time favorite artist – the great Van Morrison, a lot of what I’m hearing right here on “Eye On The Money” reminded me of that show. Vocally, Dave is as smooth as Van, and on some lines he sounded just like him: lyrically, the song is about getting the band back together and going after a record deal and Van opened the show with “Got My Latest Record Project?”, the title song from his new album; and musically, the outstanding saxophone and piano leads by Michael Smith and James Goodwin were reminders of two other things that blew me away from that concert. Go ahead, call me crazy, but I’m just telling it like I heard it. Great track guys!

If you think that a breakup song being sung by a man to a woman can’t be a beautiful song, a listen to this one may very well change your mind. Wearing his heart on his sleeve, this emotional and soulful ballad finds Dave exposing his pain as he tells an obviously undeserving woman that he has found himself “Another Girl”. Change nothing about this song except for some of the lyrics, and it would indeed be a wonderful love song.

With a bit of a deep, slightly dark and hypnotic vibe, “Last Thing” has movie soundtrack written all over it. Featuring a perfect combination of Dave’s best guitar work and tone; Steve’s best rhythm and percussion mood; and one of its best vocal presentations with Dave doing a super job of adding his own backing and harmony vocals to his powerful lead vocals. This is easily the disc’s best track. Wow!

“After All These Years” is musically the most traditional blues tracks of the lot. It features Steve locked into the perfect slow blues rhythm groove; subtle, background blues harp highlights by Gareth; and some of the disc’s best blues guitar pickin’ by Dave. Lyrically, hearing Dave melancholically describe “walking down the road with the mist all around me” this one could have very well been titled “Further On Down The Road To The Blues”.

Resembling nothing of his style, the disc close out with Dave Thomas’s rendition of Chuck Berry’s “Memphis Tennessee”. Like most of what he does, Dave likes to keep his guitar work closer to sophisticated than scorching making it quite fitting for him to do a beautiful acoustic version of a rock classic. Well done, Dave!

Other tracks on the dynamite disc include: “Everywhere Man”; “Leaving San Francisco”; “Rose Tinted Glasses”; “Pretty In Pink”; “Winnebago Dreaming”; and “Natural State Of Mind”.

(*) The second of the three was a joint album made with the great keyboard player Dave Greenslade, which is called G&T. It is much more of a rock album with hints of jazz and blues. It has been released on the Angel Air label and has got some great reviews.

To find out more about Welsh born guitarist, singer and songwriter Dave Thomas, and his long career on the British blues scene, just go to his website – www.davethomasblues.uk – Wherever you go and whomever you talk to, please tell them Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro sent you.

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