bryn rebelRebel Man is signature Bryn Haworth – elegant,tasty guitar work, warm, well-performed vocals, and a straight-forward spiritual world-view all nestled in classic rock and roll with a bluesy edge.....

Rebel Man
Bryn Haworth
Bella Music
12 tracks 40:34

Well, Bryn Haworth is back again with an album of twelve newly-recorded songs, and that's a very welcome bit of news. To say that you get exactly what you expect on Rebel Man is an understatement, but don't take that as a negative. Listening to Haworth is like having a conversation with an old and trusted friend – you might know exactly where the conversation will go but you also know that you'll feel good, refreshed, and invigorated when it's over. Bryn brings the basics: uncluttered blues-rock with an equally uncluttered theology of God's love permeating the lyrics.

"Love Me Like You Used To Do" starts off the album with that classic Bryn Haworth sound – some basic blues-based rock and roll featuring Haworth's tasty but understated slide guitar work and embellished by a tight horn section which, in reality, is just two men sounding like a lot more: Steve Gregory on saxes and Raul d'Olivera on trumpet.

The title track continues with some reggae-infused boogie and a nice picked electric solo, then it's on to "Why Are People Like That," a more stripped-down tune featuring Bryn on acoustic rhythm, electric slide guitar and vocals, abetted by back-up singers (Michelle John and Mal Pope).

There's plenty of rollicking barrel-house feeling on the standard, "Just A Closer Walk With Thee," which features some appropriately 'walking' bass. On the gentler side is the almost hurdy-gurdy of "That's All," and the signature Haworth-style ballad, "Looking Through Different Eyes," featuring a wonderful heart-felt vocal and a strong, plaintive melody.

A word about the vocals – Haworth's singing style sounds like an extension of his speaking voice, a natural sounding instrument revealing his soul in such an unassuming way that you barely even notice what a fine vocalist he actually is. There are moments on the album where Bryn effectively double tracks and adds harmony (on the aforementioned ballad, on the vocal section of the mostly-instrumental "The Holly and The Ivy," "Christmas Blues," "Moments," etc.) to excellent effect, making him his own best back-up singer!

Excellent vocals aside, Haworth includes an effective bare-bones instrumental version of the hymn-book standard, "Only Believe (All Things Are Possible)" performed acoustically and featuring his tasteful slide work.

Of course, Haworth's guitar work speaks for itself, and is augmented by the fine bass playing of Les Moir and Dave Bronze. Keyboards are ably handled by Mark Edwards and the drummer's stool is occupied by Phil Crabbe and Henry Spinetti (who's been a regular with the likes of Eric Clapton and a sometimes-player with the legendary Procol Harum).

The project closes quietly, with Haworth's voice and guitar on "It's You I Need," with Haworth singing, "Everloving is Your name / Each passing day it fans my flame / What I desire is all the same: It's You I need and You alone..." There's never any question about Haworth's faith, which is stated clearly in most of the lyrics.

On Rebel Man, as on all of Haworth's albums, an unpretentious gospel is presented in working man's terms – never accusing, never condemning (although at times confessional) and always full of hope. Once again, Bryn Haworth gives us a good time with an old friend – one who happens to play a mean slide guitar.

Bert Saraco

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