This one was a surprise for me, a pleasant surprise, or maybe even an exciting one. I really never had heard any Alastair before, why I don't know. You would think someone with this much talent would be a household name, but that's the music world, sucky acts on TV, blocking your view of the good ones, sad but true. Anyway…on with the review.
If you like your blues with a hard driving edge, or maybe what you could call jamming blues, Alastair is your man. There are several, very different styles on this CD ranging from nice and slow to blistering fast. You get some Wah-Wah, distortion, but acoustic too. The majority are hard guitar driven songs, all but two were written by Alastair. I talk about guitar work a lot here, I must say the vocals are well done too. The band behind Alastair deserves a lot of credit also, I would think just keeping up would be something, but they really do a great job.
The first track is "Ramblin' Mind", yes Muddy Waters wrote it, and without listening to the lyrics close, you would never guess. I like it, It rocks, but easy listening Muddy Waters it ain't.
"Get My Wings" is 3:13 minute blistering fast song, if anybody else recorded it would probably be a 5 or 6 minute song, I am betting the drummer really loves this one, I am out of breath just hearing it.
The title track "A Little Wiser" starts out nice and quiet, but don't let it fool you, it leaps off into what I can only compare to a Jeff Healey sliding jam, its almost a hypnotic groove, a southern rock feel.
"Chico" is a super well done acoustic ditty, less than 2 minutes long. I have to assume it is named after Alastair's Grandfather.
"The Other Side Of The World" is a real slow down from the usual here, this one could fit in on an alternative or adult FM station, lots of good guitar, just a little more "newer, today" style or sound.
"Off The Edge" has a no starting up, no slowing down quality, it just starts abruptly, and stops the same, bam it's done. It's a good jam, hard drums, with a repeating /rolling guitar riff that just won't quit, when this song is over you can still hear it in your head, that's a good thing!
"The Long Way Home" is a smooth slow one, with acoustic guitar, National Steel, banjo and mandolin, nice stuff. Shows a lot of talent.
"Love Too Strong", yes Albert King's song, is the most unbelievable guitar jamming, string bending thing I have heard in along time. It's a killer, I seriously believe you could sucker one of your friends with this one. Tell them it is a recently discovered track with SRV playing with someone else on vocals, I think you can pull it off. YES, it's that good! This one starts off like just good blues but builds slowly to a point where you just can't believe what you are hearing, it's too wild, super fast, well done licks. Albert King and SRV would be impressed, and honored. This one song alone is worth the price.
"I Know You Love Me" has a swampy, backwoods sound, harmonica and distorted vocals, different but good. It's a real slow down, and you need that after the last one.
"Sing Me The Song" has a real cool repeating riff, reminds me of a Jimmy Page / Zepplin type lick, it goes away then it's back. It just sticks in your head, you will want more when it's over, and just when you think it's over, it isn't. I like it.
"3 Bullets" revs up the pace for a finale. This is another one with a heavy repeating line, this time the bassman is really thumping while Alastair joins in, then jumps out for more licks, then in again. This track really would remind you of Kenny Wayne Shepard stuff.
Overall.. If I had to pick one artist that this CD would remind you of, it would be Kenny Wayne Shepard. If you are a KWS fan you should buy this one, many of the songs run along the same road a his music, bluesy, rocking, jamming lines. Alastair is different, and does a lot of different styles, but it does bring Kenny to mind, maybe even the Black Crows on one track too.
I hear bits and pieces of all kinds of music in this one, that's good too, lots of influences makes for lots of music, with a little something for all. Again, down home delta blues it ain't, hard hitting, jamming, even rocking blues it is. Visit Alastair at www.agsongs.com
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