It’s blues but not as you know it, as Johannesburg guitar swashbuckler Dan Patlansky – largely unknown in the UK until 2014’s Dear Silence Thieves – presents his seventh album, Introvertigo. Tiny in stature, colossal in axe prowess (honed through intense years of dive bar gigs in South Africa) and bursting with ideas, he’s a breath of fresh air in the sometimes-fusty world of blues rock.
Indeed, in a genre densely populated with worthy but predictable gunslingers, how do you stand out? And how do you do it without alienating your blues fan base? As Patlansky proves here, a dynamic, sparky cocktail of funk, rock and jazz – served up with a meat n’ potatoes base of Stevie Ray Vaughan blues – is one good option. His bluesy influences haven’t changed much (B.B. King, SRV…particularly evident in the cheerfully trad Poor Old John), nor has his capacity for bursts of fretboard fireworks. But it’s all done with the important thing in mind – the songs themselves. And a willingness to screw with the sleepier boundaries of blues, without abandoning them altogether.
In terms of lyrics, it’s not all ‘whiskey an’ women’ either. Sonova Faith hits out at the exploitative, ‘business’ end of religion (drawing, to a degree, from his upbringing in latter and post-Apartheid South Africa), Run laments mob mentality, and Western Decay lusts after simpler, earlier days. And Stop The Messin’ … ok that one is just about shagging, but hell, you’ve gotta have one – especially when it’s such a joyful, shimmying funk fest.
Patlansky found a chunk of new fans while supporting Joe Satriani in 2015, going from virtual unknown to recognised blues rock name within a year or so. Armed with Introvertigo he deserves to build on that momentum. Job well done.