CD Review: Grant Lyle “So There”

 

Toronto’s Grant Lyle has long been making his mark on the Canadian music scene with his authentic version of acoustic blues. With already seven albums under his belt, Lyle has become one of the few ambassadors for classic rock in the digital age of music. His latest release, So There, employs a refreshingly classic sound that is complemented by his breezy and sing-along lyrics.

So There is straight up, no nonsense rock and roll, rooted in a sound of blues rock that is reminiscent of the styles of Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. With his world-weary vocals, perfect guitar picking, and bluesy melodies, Lyle’s style is so faithful to the blues rock blueprint that the album sounds as though it was recorded in the studio next to Clapton while he was recording Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs with Derek and the Dominos.

The album opens with the sticky reverb and spacey vibrations of “Impressions,” a three minute atmospheric instrumental that sets the stage for the rest of the blues tunes to come. The first song on So There is “Let It Out,” which can easily be mistaken for a Clapton cover.

grant lyle coverLyle has been in the music game for a long time, and his experience with production and songwriting is apparent on the album. Making sure not to pigeonhole himself into one category, Lyle builds on his standard of blues rock by branching out and taking elements from other genres to make his own distinct sound.

Songs such as “I Will Wait” and “Walk On” are perfectly crafted in the classic rock vein, but Lyle pushes his boundaries with “Cheri Ann (Long Way To Go)” and “From the Hills.” “Cheri Ann” sounds like the b-side to “The Weight” by The Band, while “From the Hills” adds in an old school country sound, with the twangy guitars and wistful harmonica accompanying his been-there-done-it-all vocals.

Grant Lyle doesn’t limit himself in his harvesting of other genres – “Librium” and “Lost in Temptation” are akin to the Black Crowes, with the melding of blues rock with the 90s alternative rock sound. For fans of hardcore blues, Lyle has a couple gifts for you, too. His cover of Son House’s Levee Moan” is a prize of a tribute, and the subtle swagger of the guitar in “Trouble Blues” sounds like it could back Albert King in his heyday.

So There showcases the best of Grant Lyle – flawless musicianship, adeptness in songwriting, and a slick production that manages to modernize all of the conventional blues elements that Lyle plays with. The result is an album that is both contemporarily catchy and respectfully traditional at the same time.

So There can be heard here.

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