Blues Counsel: Slow Demolition

Back with their third album of original material (they also put out a killer live record featuring guest, Phil Keaggy) Blues Counsel unleashes another rootsy, blues-informed record that seems designed to share the elemental Good News of the gospel with the unsaved, even as it speaks healing into the believers life. This is a stated purpose of the band, even contained in their name, basically using Blues music to counsel or heal “the blues” or the effects of the sin nature in people’s lives.

They succeed in all counts on Slow Demolition, as, right away, Emedin Rivera’s expertly employed percussion touches give wings to Tom Lane’s Southern rock styled “Lord, Have Mercy”, on which Lane wails with impressive immediacy, accenting the pleading nature of the lyric. “At the River” features Tony Hooper on a Fabulous Thunderbirds style roadhouse blues romp that features plenty of incendiary guitar interplay between Hooper, Lane, and Will MacFarlane. “Look Up Child” also features the vocals of Hooper on a very Sun Studios type of rockabilly outing, featuring a message of exhortation about impending redemption. This song also features some truly notable guitar soloing from Mr. Hooper. “Wish I Knew” pairs a basic blues chord progression with a surprisingly funky rhythm guitar riff to great effect, giving Will MacFarlane room to stretch his expansive vocal and his own fiery guitar sangin’.

Elsewhere, the band seems to strike a bit of a more conventional roots rock vibe, choosing not to genre hop as much as on past records, although “Drop” has a funky R&B vibe that is infectious. Also, ballads have a larger fingerprint on Slow Demolition, as Hooper and Lane each have two between them, and Hooper pairs with everybody’s favorite Irish worship singer, Kathryn Scott, on the stirring, six-string laden “Right On the Line”.  Bassist Rick Cua sings sturdily on the worshipful, heartland rock turn, “Back To You”, the song on this record I could see being sung most often for congregational worship.

As usual, the boys in the band, Hooper, Lane, Cua, MacFarlane, Rivera, and drummer extraordinaire and sometimes producer, Tony Morra, all come to play with their “A” games as muscular riffing, burning solos, and Cua’s nimble bottom end prove just what exceptional players these guys are. And, they have created a worthy showcase for their talents with Slow Demolition.

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