Fireworks

John Fairhurst - 'Saltwater' http://mail.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/87/95/46/John-Fairhurst-Saltwater-28-1428269570.jpg Hot

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A real diamond in the rough for those into traditional Blues, Southern Rock and Americana.

In case you were still pretty sceptical about British Blues – or the Blues genre associated exclusively with the very cradle of its birth somewhere down the Mississippi Delta – then 'Saltwater', a debut album of a Bristol-based singer/song-writer John Fairhurst, may convince you about your approach being not entirely right (to put it mildly). Fairhurst learned his chops performing alongside many different artists, from Fun Lovin' Criminals to the late Blues legend Johnny Winter. And, guessing by the Bluesy roots of 'Saltwater', it's the latter's heritage that influenced this British musician the most and, perhaps, encouraged him to take his listeners for a musical journey onto the deep South U.S., right into the heart of the Blues. That's what 'Saltwater' stands for music-wise – a journey right into the heart of America.

'Breakdown' is the first stop in this journey that starts off with a grinding, gritty guitar riff, developing into a rough, Bluesy track with some distant echoes of Boogie, much in vein of the early ZZ Top. In spite of the modern-day production, there's a certain live vibe to this track as well as the rest of the material, starting from the openers groovy follow-up 'Who You Fooling'. 'Pay Day' is slightly more melodic and perhaps even Country-ish, although Fairhurst's low, throaty voice against the background of the raw, metallic sound of slide guitar may remind you of Chris Rea's less "radio friendly" songs.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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'More More More' is a lively Americana-infused gallop, followed by the Boogie piano-based 'Time Goes By' and guitar-laden Blues of 'I'm Coming Home'. 'No Shelter' gravitates towards a more contemporary Blues/Southern Rock sound, a territory occupied by the likes of the modern-day Lynyrd Skynyrd, whereas the feisty 'Black Cat', featuring a rich use of harmonica, makes a volte-face turn towards more retro-oriented sound again. 'Dance In The Pines' continues in the similar manner, towards the finish that is a title track – an epic, eight minute piece of Blues Rock entitled unsurprisingly 'Saltwater'.

Perhaps the biggest asset to 'Saltwater' is the convincing live vibe of the album, almost as if Fairhurst was making his recordings somewhere in a low-class joint down the American South, mantled in cigarette smoke and the smell of whiskey. It's an album that is Southern-to-the-utmost and almost literally soaked in the genre of Americana sound-wise, laden with tasteful slide guitar and harmonica, with John Fairhurst delivering his vocals in a Bluesy, expressive manner. 'Saltwater' is thus a real diamond in the rough for those into traditional Blues, Southern Rock and Americana – perhaps with a bit of a modern-day twist here and there – and mostly those who want the music to be genuine and thus raw rather than a well-crafted product.

Alexandra Mrozowska

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