Blues Round-up: Summer 2013

Henry Yates on new releases from Mike Zito, Deap Vally, Gravelroad and Garrett Lebeau

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Mike Zito: Gone To Texas

Flanked by Devon Allman’s blue-blooded golden boy and Cyril Neville’s frazzled shaman, there’s a tendency to miscast Mike Zito as the ‘quiet one’ in Royal Southern Brotherhood. Which is not actually how it is, because he’s the US supergroup’s most intriguing member: a deep-thinking ex-junkie who got straight in Texas and tips his hat to his adopted home-state on this latest solo album. By extension, the vibe is planted in the grand tradition of brass-bolstered, Delbert McClinton-ish Texan blues, though Zito throws classy curveballs with the desolate I Never Knew A Hurricane and a redemptive solo take on Blind Willie Johnson’s Let Your light Shine On Me. Which is impressive stuff. But it’s Zito’s eye for lyrical detail that really marks him out, whether it’s the salute to his AA group on Wings Of Freedom, or Death Row’s true story of a pastor preparing souls for the electric chair. You wouldn’t wish Zito’s road on anyone, but Gone To Texas proves that rock-bottom has left him with a songwriting goldmine. (810)

Deap Vally: Sistrionix Island

Deap Vally look like the next big deal: two insolent-eyed, cherry-pouting, cut-off-denim LA vixens with Marilyn Manson in their fanclub. At its best the duo’s debut sounds convincing too, with Baby I Call Hell splicing a bulldozer groove and two-girl chants. The stumbling block is that too many songs here never develop past a dino-stomp riff, and that the vocals can be a little shrill. (610)

Various Artists: True Blues/o:p

Henry Yates

Henry Yates has been a freelance journalist since 2002 and written about music for titles including The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Classic Rock, Guitarist, Total Guitar and Metal Hammer. He is the author of Walter Trout's official biography, Rescued From Reality, a music pundit on Times Radio and BBC TV, and an interviewer who has spoken to Brian May, Jimmy Page, Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie Wood, Dave Grohl, Marilyn Manson, Kiefer Sutherland and many more.