Reece Lincoln as reviewed by The Phantom TollboothLincoln must have been hearing classic guitarists from the cradle. This is remarkable stuff.

Time: 10 tracks / 52 minute

Right from the off, Lincoln’s passion for blues guitar is palpable. His wild and prolonged solos on two tracks are balanced by some taut playing elsewhere and the discipline of playing in very different styles.

By selecting Blind Willie Johnson’s classic title track, he joins a long tradition of Christian bluesmen, but makes his own version of “Soul of a Man” stand out, with its monk-chant introduction, chugging riff and the emotional heights of its impassioned electric solos.

He must have spent all his life surrounded by music to have absorbed so much history. By reverting to an acoustic, thumb-clicking, swing style for his “Unfinished Business”, he shows a remarkable breadth for a twenty-one-year-old bandleader. Yet he rarely shows his lack of years, and when he does, it is often through an enthusiasm that fires up the music.

Sometimes he shows flashes of live Blackmore, as his blues touches rock, but the influence of others can be a little too obvious. His tendency to sing as if he were Axl Rose (“I feel the pay-ee-ayn…”) is distracting at times. But while “Freight Train” and “I Got Lucky” could be more fluid melodically, the playing is consistently strong.

Other than the title track, key songs to investigate are the opening “Hard Times,” a blues song for this moment; “End of Days,” its spacey vibe reminiscent of the recent Devon Allman release; the tone of “Veteran’s Song” and the fourteen-minute “Shackles and Chains,” which is his personal “Freebird.”

The peaks of this release are the best blues-rock that I have heard in many months.

Derek Walker