What can we ask of an album that opens with the line “My names is Eric Gales, any questions?”
Produced by Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith, this follow up to 2019’s ‘The Bookends’ sees Gales reclaim his (ahem) crown as one of the kings of modern blues.
The opening riff on the mid-tempo rocker ‘Death Of Me’ sets a mean and moody tone, reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix and the aforementioned Bonamassa.
In stark contrast, the smooth rhythm & blues groove of ‘The Storm’, with its horn arrangements and hammond organ flourishes, drives along in true Memphis style.
Long time friend of Gales, Bonamassa features heavily on the duelling guitar of ‘I want My Crown’, which sees the pair engage in some blistering funk blues soloing.
The riff-laden rawness returns on ‘Survivor’, on which Gales captures the spirit of the power trio, taking a long solo over a bed of bass and drums.
Standout tracks also include the infectious shuffle of ‘You Don’t Know The Blues’, the soulful ballads ’Too Close To The Fire’ and ‘I Found Her’, with their emotive, extended guitar solos and the spoken-word verses of the album’s closing track ‘I Gotta Go’.
‘Crown’ is a deeply sincere record. Gales displays so much conviction and soul throughout, not only as a guitarist, but as a singer and a songwriter. It’s only late January, but Eric Gales could already have given us the blues album of 2022.