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Gravel Road - Shot The Devil

Uncle Larry’s Records

Just as the alt-country movement of the last decade or so has added (or more correctly maintained) a deeper and roots-ier element to the country music scene, bands like Gravel Road, who consider themselves alt-blues, are doing the same thing in the blues community. Their sound is unlike most of the blues we are used to listening to and combines elements and attitudes whose paths don’t usually cross to create new music that is, at times, as strange as it is compelling.

It is honestly hard to come up with a sonic comparison to draw to describe Gravel Road and the music on the latest CD Shot The Devil. They are rock-influenced, but not in the more obvious Kenny Wayne/Bonamassa style one expects when thinking blues/rock. Instead, imagine something closer to ZZ Top meeting Black Sabbath fronted by R.L. Burnside and the picture will start to emerge. There is plenty of heavied-up blues guitar here, but it goes in service of the groove rather than the typical long wanking solo.

The band calls their music “dark blues” and that is a pretty fair description of their vibe. This is music for soul-selling more than party-starting, more crossroads-at-midnight than Saturday-night-juke-joint. Much of the record gets kind of hypnotic and keeps the listener engaged in the feel of the songs.

One spin of the title track “I Shot The Devil” will make clear the things that are hard to describe about the band. Gravel Road is at once deeply rooted and completely modern and that is the crux of their appeal. It will probably take more than one listen to get what is going on here, but the time is worth investing, as the world needs more people making this music their own rather than repeating what was done half a century ago.

By Mike O'Cull

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