Saturday, 2 June 2018

Chris Rea - Santo Spirito Blues (2011)


Released September 2011

Recorded at Metropolis Studios, London

After the magnificence of “Blue Guitars”, six full years earlier, it would always be really difficult to top such a collection. Having returned to his blues roots for that magnum opus, Chris Rea stayed with them for this album.

This is very much an upbeat, blues rock n roll album, exemplified by tracks such as “Rock And Roll Tonight”, a sort of fast blues rock by numbers - pounding drums, cowbell shots and Rea’s screaming slide guitar cutting through like a hot knife through butter. “Never Tie Me Down” is in exactly the same vein as indeed is the opener, the excellent “Dancing My Blues Away”. Rea’s gravelly voice doesn’t let you down, neither does his guitar or the more than competent backing band of experienced musicians. This album is a vibrant, uplifting, energetic listen, but as with his next one (in 2017) one feels that he could do this on automatic pilot. It is in his blood. Fair enough though, because it is damn good. Like Van Morrison (who has also “come home to the blues”), you now know what you are going to get.

“The Chance Of Love” is a fast-paced, very Mark Knopfler solo/Dire Straits-ish piece of mature rock, full of incisive guitar licks and cynical, world-weary lyrics. “The Last Open Road” is back to the old slide guitar and the full on rock sound again. If you like this sort of thing, you can’t really go wrong with it, but it a tad formulaic. Never mind, it’s a good formula, after all.

“Electric Guitar” is a reworked version of the song that first appeared on the “Electric Memphis Blues” album contained within “Blue Guitars”. It is a little less rootsy and edgy here, less “authentic”. Backed here with horns and a bit more of a “pop” feel, despite Rea’s slide guitar still dominating. It has some Stonesy riffs in that weren’t there before. “Money” would also appear on another album - the next one. Here it has that somewhat phoney “crackly” intro (as if it is an old scratched 45 rpm single) and a jazzy opening that continues for two minutes before fading away as a heavy rock beat and a country-ish mandolin-style guitar sound take over. The later version would be far more of a straightforward blues rock workout. Either are impressive, but I prefer the latter. “The Way She Moves” is a mysterious, edgy southern-style blues that would not have been out of place somewhere on “Blue Guitars”. It is one the best pure blues tracks on the album. Again, there are some Mark Knopfler similarities in Rea’s vocal delivery. “Dance With Me All Night Long” is another swampy sort of blues, a bit Willy De Ville in style. “Think Like A Woman” is just a beautiful, sad but melodic almost Springsteenesque ballad, with Rea’s voice on top heart-breaking timbre.

The album ends in something of a laid-back low-key fashion, after what was a quite powerful opening half. The vaguely poppy “You Got Lucky”  is followed by the almost comatose “Lose My Heart In You” sort of symbolises this. It’s a nice relaxing change from the rest of the album though. “I Will Go On” is an anthemic, Celtic-feeling slow closer - soulful voice and soul organ and some crying slide guitar to sign off. Inspirational. Sometimes Chris Rea just hits the spot.

Overall, this is a quality piece of work throughout. 


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