4BN-Paul Beer Battles

20 March 2014
Written by Sean Willoughby

Beer, Battles and Babies

Photo by Phil Brisse
As I took a step back to go over my review I realized I kept repeating myself. Excellent guitar work. Love the tone. Bloody slide heaven. Man, this guy can play. Whoa, rewind…let’s listen to that solo again.
Put Johnny Winter, Chet Atkins, Muddy Waters, Ry Cooder, Jimmy Page, and some originality in a blender and puree for forty-four years and the resulting mix gives you Paul DesLauriers. But there is more to it than that. I mulled over why I was so impressed. How is the guitar given the chance to stand out yet not be overbearing? Sam Harrisson and Greg Morency are the answers to those questions.They compliment DesLauriers like no others could.
It’s like a fine bottle of scotch upgraded to a Glenfiddich 50 year old special single malt. From A to Z the timekeepers have it covered and stand out in their own right. As I gave tracks a rerun there was always a bass run or a crescendo or a strike on a crash that was so slight yet perfectly done.
I recently did a review praising Deep Purple’s latest release “Now What?!” which was released eight years after their last studio effort. The Paul DesLauriers Band’s latest self-titled release has ‘suffered’ the same positive effect. DesLauriers’ last studio effort of this type was ‘Ripping Into Red’ dating back to 2006, an
exceptional release in itself. Morency explained that ‘Ripping Into Red’ was a collection of ideas that DesLauriers had already penned and pretty much had the song construction in place and was a Paul DesLauriers album. It covered an array of musical styles ranging from blues, rock, to folk. On the contrary, this contribution is a band effort with all three musicians bouncing ideas off of each other during the writing process. The longtime collaborators partnership is reflected in the newly minted name of “The Paul DesLauriers Band”. The power trio presents a musical direction more focused on the blues.
The upshot in the gap between releases is an explosion of pent-up ideas unearthed in the studio. And don’t let the studio aspect fool you. This offering has a total live feel to it and as the liner notes declare it was “recorded live off the floor”. Although DesLauriers, Harrisson, and Morency have been involved in outside projects and have different musical outlets, their true love is rocking the blues. The trio has gigged abundantly over the past ten years and in the process has gelled as a unit. That is evident with this release…and I tell you what; I love the way they rock the blues.
From l to r: Sam Harrisson, Paul DesLauriers, Greg Morency.
The opening track “Going Down Slow” is a quintessential offering of a blues rock song. The riff, the hook, the harmonica nestled in the mix, the bass line backing up DesLauriers vocal “I can’t do most anything” are flawless. This is how you kick off a disc. “She Should be Mine” is a fine example of slide guitar right from the first note to the last. Definitely one of my favorites after the first play through. As much as I’m keen on a good thrashing guitar solo the opposite can reel me in as well. “Labour of Love” is a mid-tempo song which has the band quiet down in the last minute and ease through with some awe-inspiring guitar work. Mellow but what a touch. There’s even a little chuckle at the end, as if to imply “Yeah, nailed that one” or perhaps it’s in reference to the lyrics.

Nobody’s Fault but Mine starts off with a slow and heavy beat and was recorded with that double neck Gibson DesLauriers is fond of playing. 

Things pick up after a break in the tune and turn into a train beat rhythm and some great guitar licks with a bit of country feel to them. I’m referring to country more in the genre of an Albert Lee kind of way than a Taylor Swift sense. DesLauriers also gives a nice gritty vocal on the latter part of this song convincing me it was his fault. That grittiness comes out on a few tracks and is well served. A different version of this tune was also recorded by the three musicians last year with sitar player Anwar Khurshid on a release called “Enter the Gate”, a unique acoustic meeting between the Blues and Indian Classical music.
Lending a helping hand to polish off various tracks on this CD are a few friends throughout the tight blues community. Veteran Alec McElcheran helped out and gets writing credits on three of the tracks. Juno and multiple Maple Blues Award winner Steve Marriner of Monkey Junk dropped by to be a part of the proceedings adding harmonica and keys where needed. Who better than Juno award winner Steve Strongman to play and co-write “All I Want”; a funky tune that has him trading off licks with DesLauriers. The song was conceived in the North Pole when…well, I digress. I’ll let DesLauriers tell the story as he doesn’t often get the chance. At the closing stages of the song, the two guitarist virtuosos have a free for all. Generally there would be something pre-arranged and the leads would be parallel but the two 6-stringers pull off duelling leads, nevertheless making it all blend until a funky rhythm is re-established to end the song.
An instrumental tune called “Green Stripe” made it to the final cut. Instrumentals can either take you with them or they tell you to hit the “next” button. No need for vocals, the guitar speaks volumes. Take me with you, I’m hitting repeat on this one.
“I Blame You” must have given drummer Harrisson nightmares with it’s fast paced rockabilly type tempo. Frantic bass, frantic lead, and frantic vocals. This is an in your face song. Perchance the blame can lie with Harrisson as this song was the last to be recorded for the session, right before a gig the same night, and within a mere 12 hours before Harrisson’s wife gave birth to a baby boy!
“Love in Vain” and “Baby Come Home” are the most tranquil tunes on the album. The first is brought back to its’ roots. It picks up a bit with the slide solo before the rhythm team regains control, returning back to how it started. The latter is a ballad with DesLauriers vocals taking the spotlight. The song deals with lovers who areseparated geographically. Or perhaps it is about imaginary love.
The closer ‘Not Fade Away’ runs over eight minutes. It starts off as the traditional version of the Buddy Holly song does, but then dives into a healthy studio jam; something that is way too neglected in today’s music. Time for Mr. DesLauriers to have some fun and use some effects. There is some dynamic drumming by Harrisson during the jam. This number is one to look forward to in the live set.
Sometimes in life, things have a way of falling into place. The right people and the right vibe can lead to good things. Like a good novel that you can’t put down, reading page after page, this CD has song appeal from start to finish. This disk is exciting, it’s gripping, it’s…it’s simply good music.

I’m all in, now how about you?
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