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All Wound Up
Artist: Dave Fields
Label: FMI Records
Time: 12 tracks / 59:27
Like a runaway train, Dave Fields gets right down to business on “Train to My Heart,” the lead-off track on All Wound Up, his excellent CD of inspired rhythm and blues songs in the Stevie-Ray Vaughan tradition. As far as playing the blues is concerned, either you’ve got it or you don’t – Dave Field’s got it, whatever it is. As cryptic and vague as that statement may be, there’s an intangible element that makes the blues sound _legitimate_ and not simply imitative or pedantic. Rhythm and blues has to flow – it suffers from too much effort. Like the actor who’s got it down so well that you don’t even notice the acting, a really good blues player gets right to you without working to convince you. That’s not to imply that these songs are played without a strong visceral punch – to the contrary, the twelve tracks on All Wound Up are played with considerable blues cred…
One might assume that playing several instruments on many of the tracks, as well as handling the lead vocals, would be enough to kill any chance of true energy and momentum, but Fields manages to pull it off amazingly well. Adding to his already-full plate, Fields wrote all of the songs and is also the album’s producer, arranger, mixer and sound engineer! The performances are energetic and solid, with funk to spare, spanning a variety of blues styles that all manage to sound authentic. Fields plays a good low-down, nasty sounding guitar with fat tones that will remind you of both Stevie-Ray and Hendrix. Aside from playing good, hot, dirty blues licks in a rock-blues style, Fields throws in some effective volume-swells on the slow-burning “Cold Wind Blowin’” and displays excellent slide technique on “Still Itchin’” (which also features Billy Gibson turning in an excellent performance on blues-harp).
Fields plays more than double-duty as he loads up songs like the album’s title track by playing not only guitar, but bass, drums, and piano as well. Joining Fields throughout the proceedings are Erik Boyd on bass, Ken Soule on drums, Rob Chaseman on sax, and Bill Fergus on trumpet. These guys come on like a big-blues-band, and boogie full-steam on songs like “Big Fat Ludus.” What’s a big fat Ludus? Your guess is as good as mine, but the song cooks!
Lyrics? This is blues – don’t expect theology or deep thoughts. These are songs that stay in standard blues territory, which means everything from women (usually gone or cheating), to money (never enough), to food (my best guess about the aforementioned Ludus – actually, that could just as easily fit the _first_ category…).
Fields’ vocal sound is very close to that of English blues-man, Bryn Haworth. The vocals are cool and easy, with a hint of jazz phrasing, and are thankfully free from over-playing a bluesy approach. There’s a refreshing lack of pretention in Fields’ delivery – he seems to instinctively know where, when and how to hit the spot. Where some young white blues singers try to over-compensate, Fields simply sings it the way he feels it, without self-conscious growled vocals or stylized phrasing.
This is a blues album that rocks – it’s hard not to get your body involved when the CD is playing. A really good blues band will get your body moving while you get yourself lost in the emotional moment with whatever soloist is wailing away. Even though it’s called the _blues_, it should make you laugh at least _part_ of the time, ‘cause deep inside, you know you’ve been there, too, and you recognize the feeling.
If you enjoy the blues at all, and especially if you dig that Stevie-Ray Vaughan style, give this Manhattan-born bluesman a try and see if it doesn’t smell like Texas with a hint of Louisiana on the side.
Dude – are you sure you’re from New York?