Aaron Keylock - Cut Against The Grain album review

Oxfordshire’s teenage blueser impresses with shred-packed, flair-to-spare debut

Cut Against The Grain album review

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Keylock has long seemed destined for future axemaster success, his support slots with The Answer and Wilko symbolic of a passing of the baton from Joe Bonamassa. But even those prepared for Keylock’s ascendancy will be surprised and energised by this debut album, recorded in LA with Slash/Alice Cooper producer Fabrizio Grossi.

Keylock has long seemed destined for future axemaster success, his support slots with The Answer and Wilko symbolic of a passing of the baton from Joe Bonamassa. But even those prepared for Keylock’s ascendancy will be surprised and energised by this debut album, recorded in LA with Slash/Alice Cooper producer Fabrizio Grossi.

Keylock’s’s influences are rooted in 70s blues-rock heaven – the Allmans, Zeppelin, Rory Gallagher, and the ghost of Gary Moore guides standout Just One Question, written astonishingly, when Keylock was 13.

The maturity of the songwriting might be the most remarkable aspect of an album where slide-lick-stoked beauties (the title track and the optimism-packed incantatory release of Sun’s Gonna Shine) and properly rigorous dynamics (All The Right Moves) hold sway. Keylock not only has natural knowhow negotiating his chosen idiom, he also writes colourful individual songs set to make a mark alongside the influences he cherishes. The rewards awaiting him should be voluminous.

Gavin Martin

Late NME, Daily Mirror and Classic Rock writer Gavin Martin started writing about music in 1977 when he published his hand-written fanzine Alternative Ulster in Belfast. He moved to London in 1980 to become the NME’s Media Editor and features writer, where he interviewed the Sex Pistols, Joe Strummer, Pete Townshend, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Ian Dury, Killing Joke, Neil Young, REM, Sting, Marvin Gaye, Leonard Cohen, Nina Simone, James Brown, Willie Nelson, Willie Dixon, Madonna and a host of others. He was also published in The Times, Guardian, Independent, Loaded, GQ and Uncut, he had pieces on Michael Jackson, Van Morrison and Frank Sinatra featured in The Faber Book Of Pop and Rock ’N’ Roll Is Here To Stay, and was the Daily Mirror’s regular music critic from 2001. He died in 2022.