Gravel Road

By Lee Jergensen
February 2012

- “A gravel road is a type of unpaved road surfaced with gravel that has been brought to the site from a quarry or stream bed. They are common in less-developed nations, and also in the rural areas of developed nations such as Canada and the United States.”

That is what you find on Wikipedia when you do a search for the band GravelRoad. I was taking a look to see if there was any more information on GravelRoad that I wasn’t aware of before writing this review and while Wikipedia is by no means all-knowing, GravelRoad is more underground than their work and talents warrant. Their new CD PyscheDelta, their first release since 2008’s Shot the Devil doesn’t mean they’ve been slacking off. T Model Ford has kept them busy as his back up band on his last two albums; 2009’s The Ladies Man and 2010’s Taledragger, and on tour.

The Seattle trio that forms GravelRoad is comprised of Jon “Kirby” Newman, Martin Reinsel and Stefan Zillioux. They show their deep blues, southern rock and 60’s psychedelic rock influences as well as their time spent with T Model Ford. This CD will rock you but they aren’t going to try to impress you with their virtuosity, but rather patiently, gently and sometimes urgently grind like lovers on a hot summer night. The first track “Devil Eyes” gets the deep blues rolling and then they switch it up with the 70’s funk sound of “Nobody Gets Me Down.” The third track, “Keep On Movin,” brings in the more psychedelic blues rock that will be the theme throughout the CD. The fourth track, “Furry,” has perhaps the most traditional deep blues feel on the disc with its twanging slide work. “In the Woods” has a much more southern rock vibe made more noticeable by the changing of vocalists. “Leave Her Alone” continues the 60’s blues jam sound with its almost Cream-like base line. “Deep Blues” delves back into the deep blues, which is followed by the yearning vocals of “Going Down That Road Again.” The trippiest song on the CD has to be “Caves,” which is reminiscent of the progressive rock sound of 801’s (Phil Manzanara, Brian Eno, Bill MacCormick, Francis Monkman, Simon Phillips and Lloyd Watson) 1976 release 801 Live. “I Was Alone” closes the disc out with its slow bluesy, wistful, longing.

Overall, this CD nicely blends the new with the old and sounds like it could have just as well been produced in 1970 as 2011, before the advent of all the effects used now -- some reverb, some echo, some distortion and call it a day. Sitting here on a New England winter’s night, it also seems to have the sound and feel of a recording made in a rundown juke joint down an unimproved road somewhere in the deep South ...on a hot ... steamy ... humid summer night, smoke hanging still with no breeze to convince it to rise, tables covered in beer bottles glistening in their own perspiration. No, they are in no hurry, they’re gonna play all night.

Wipe the sweat from your brow and get another cold one – you’ll be there a while.

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