Hadden Sayers

Hadden Sayers
Rolling Soul

Independent Release

By Tony Del Rey
May 2013

With the prospect of the blues returning to musical prominence growing bleaker by the decade, fans of the genre might find renewed optimism in the 1970s, post-Motown sounds of singer, songwriter and guitarist Hadden Sayers’ new release, Rolling Soul. Deviating from the warhorse blues material that even so-called “progressive” blues artists insist on rehashing album after disappointing album, Sayers dispenses with the fiats of standard I-IV-V blues playing in favor of more inventive fare.

While the album hardly qualifies as blues with a futuristic slant, Rolling Soul approaches blues music from the obtuse angle of filtering it through the prism of a tight soul band that can rock when it wants to. So adept is Sayers at mixing his musical metaphors, older listeners are apt to draw parallels between his earnest vocal work and Bob Seger, whose brand of rock, fused with blue-eyed soul, permeated FM radio for a good portion of the 70s and beyond.

Unfortunately, Sayers’ original material isn’t compelling enough to transcend an occasional spin on late night blues hour radio programming, or receive much attention beyond intermittent college radio airplay. Though Sayers exhibits a craftsman-like approach to his song arrangements, his fealty to the blues idiom precludes introducing strong melodies and tuneful hooks; relying instead on tread-worn lyrics and some slippery moves with the slide to convey feeling.

The only numbers with any real potential for reaching a wider audience are the Al Green-spiced soul-searcher, “Something Wrong In The World” and the confessional country blues ballad, “The Man I’m Supposed to Be;” two slow-tempo love songs that boast some fine guitar work from Sayers.

It’s a pretty sure bet that Rolling Soul isn’t the first disc to unite blues and rock music under the aegis of soul, and it probably won’t be the last. After all, three sub-genres are better than one – so the thinking goes. But does this hybrid approach to making contemporary music resonate with the casual listener living in the 21st century? Only if your grandma downloads it to her I-Phone.

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