An accomplished guitar player, Adrian Galysh has a reputation as a gunslinger capable of mixing soulful licks with full-bore rock and the heady swirl of seventies progressive rock. Often an instrumental artist, ‘Into the blue’ is a welcome departure that sees Adrian digging deep to deliver an album that pays tribute to the blues. With drummer Joey Heredia (Stevie Wonder) and bassist Paul Loranger (Eric Sardinas) on board as the rhythm section and with Kacee Clanton (Joe Cocker, Beth Hart) providing vocals on a number of tracks, ‘Into the blue’ stands tall against any of the big blues releases we’ve seen this year (a list which includes Joe Bonamassa, The Rides and Eric Clapton) and further cements Adrian’s impressive reputation.
The album gets off to a remarkable start as a chain-gang chant leads into the blistering blues of ‘let your hammer ring’. Reminiscent of Doyle Bramhall III’s Crossroads appearance in which he employed two drummers and sang traditional, chain-gang blues, ‘let your hammer ring’ has an authentic feel and some truly blazing solos, the latter seeing Adrian’s fingers flashing across the fretboard with impressive fluidity. Even more impressive is the crackling energy with which ‘barstool monarchy’ is dispatched, Adrian and his band laying down lines of fire as Kacee delivers a soulful vocal that drips attitude and style, giving even Fergie (Black Eyed Peas) a run for her money in terms of power and passion. Next up is a laid back cover of the classic ‘messin’ with the kid’ (so memorably covered by Rory Gallagher), which sees Adrien not only summon up an impressive vocal, but also dig deep for some truly epic solos. A perfect tribute to the power of the blues it’s a great example of an artist taking hold of a classic tune and making it their own, and it’s a pleasure to hear Adrian’s take on it. Adrian’s impressive run continues with the slow blues of ‘Unloveable me’, a slinky, late-night piece that could easily score the credits to a James Bond movie thanks to Kacee’s stunning, sultry performance and the subtle deployment of strings. Another cover appears in the form of Jimmy Cox’s ‘Nobody knows you (when you’re down and out)’, and, once again, Kacee’s dusky voice triumphs, even as Adrian’s tasteful guitar work provides the perfect backdrop for a performance that brings to mind the late, great Janis Joplin.
The second half of the album opens with the Hendrix-esque stomp of ‘the war’, a gritty blast of rock-infused blues powered by Joey’s pounding drums and Kacee’s tough-as-nails vocal. However, it is the gutsy slide guitar of ‘who am I to say’ that will lodge itself in your mind and the juxtaposition of slide elements and hard rock recall Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s epic ‘Howl’. ‘Further on up the road’, the album’s final cover, is well worn, but not unwelcome territory. Played relatively straight, it offers some of the album’s most sublime guitar work and Adrian’s voice, layered with just a touch of grit, suits the track perfectly. The album closes, and all too quickly, with ‘Why am I singing the blues’, a track that edges into progressive territory as Adrian employs a playing style that recalls the languid beauty of David Gilmour. It is a poignant ending to a fantastic album and leaves you very much wanting more.
This year has seen a number of high profile blues releases appear, but every once in a while an album appears out of nowhere and blindsides you. This is one such album. Both Adrian and Kaycee are accomplished vocalists, delivering passionate performances that linger long in the memory. However, with no disrespect to either, the star of the show is Adrian’s effortlessly intuitive guitar playing which can move from sweet and subtle (‘Nobody knows you (when you’re down and out)’) to blistering (‘the war’) in a heartbeat. Nonetheless, it would be remiss not to mention the excellent rhythm section and musically this album is an absolute belter from start to finish, and it’s hard to escape the impression that the artists involved had a blast recording this tribute to the blues. ‘Into the blue’ is one of those albums that just gets better on repeated listens and the challenge in writing this review has been to try to curb the hyperbole, rather than struggle for things to say. To keep it to the point then – this is a fabulous blues rock album delivered by a crack band and replete with stunning solos. If you respect the awesome power of the guitar, then you need this album.