As the title suggests, this follow-up to 2010’s all-original Playful Heart from the former Procol Harum guitarist and 70s solo powerhouse centres on covers, supplemented by a handful of originals. Now 67, Trower is an oft-forgotten English guitar hero but his credentials are well to the fore here.
The flair and pedigree flows as his dirty, Hendrix-inspired fuzz tone and mesmerising technique is let off the leash for some blistering workouts. Deft rearrangements of such chestnuts as BB King’s The Thrill Is Gone, Willie Dixon’s Little Red Rooster and Albert King’s Born Under A Bad Sign become platforms for Trower’s simmering and pulsating keynotes, alive with strange melancholy and an unerring feel for trip-wire tension.
Originals such as When I Heard Your Name are comparatively thin placed beside the canonical cornerstones. As a portrait of a craftsman reconnecting with the raw material that first made him such a formidable force, Roots And Branches is hard to fault.