Storms Of Life
(Tone-Cool/Artemis - CD751 135 2A c.2002)
by Craig Ruskey
Review date: September2002
"Keeping the Blues Alive Award"|
Achievement for Blues on the Internet
Presented by The Blues Foundation
Much like his father, Luther, Bernard Allison is his own man while he carries the torch of influence from those who impressed him. There is a comfortable yet indelible impression left by his father that emanates from close to everything Bernard has recorded since the age of 13, when he guested on one of Luther's recordings, and his newest, "Storms Of Life," a second effort for Tone-Cool, isn't much different. A commanding guitarist with effortless control of his instrument and vocals that are a perfect match to what he unleashes from his six-string, his catalog is growing as surely as he is maturing. For the purist (more or less) there's the unfettered workout of "Slip Slidin', " which leads off here, laced with careening bottleneck and Luther's "Down South" is a smoking four minutes of uptown guitar grit filled with passionate vocals and slicing licks, plus a pair of solos that burn up the surroundings. Johnny Winter's "Mean Town Blues" is taken at a breakneck pace, much like the original, but far more centered and solid, and the modulating shave-and-a-haircut groove of "Speed Slide" offers more whistling bottleneck. For the shuffling "Fist Full Of Dirt," there's enough guitar pyrotechnics to please younger fans and the band swings through the relaxed pace of "Goodbye Little Girl" powered with chugging horns, harp, and a riveting guitar break. The dynamics-charged "Help Me Through The Days" takes a simmering slow blues right into the alley, where it belongs as Bernard leaves antics by the wayside and plays soulfully, from the heart. Less traditional, yet firmly rooted in blues territory is the title cut with a slow and funky mood and the similar approach of "Just Do Me Any Way You Want." The loping feel of "I Think I Love You Too Much" traverses the modern blues idiom well with haunting guitar and there's a looming air of mysteriousness for "I Wanna Drive You Home," and while everything seems to be in check, the back-and-forth groove never seems to settle into completely comfortable territory. "Snake Bit Again" is packed with supercharged guitar heroics and a thumping beat that propels the track while "Reaching Out," from his father's pen, is quite radio friendly (for what's considered modern R&B) with it's floating, jazz-inflected alto sax break. While it doesn't necessarily break a lot of new ground, Bernard's "Storms Of Life" has enough going for it to attract a younger crowd while older, blues-grizzled veterans will take pleasure in the deeply-rooted attack of the young guitar slinger. Blues is in a good spot today with newer talent filling a good portion of the void left by passing greats and Bernard Allison has a master's touch to keep the flame burning brightly. The web address is www.tonecool.com and email contact can be made by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org - a label with plenty to offer.
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