Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My Turn reviewed by Steve Jones

My Turn
Kirk Fletcher
Eclecto Groove records
10 tracks

Kirk Fletcher is one of the most understated and unnoticed guys in the blues world. I’ve seen and met him a few times, heard him with bands like the Fabulous Thunderbirds and Rod Piazza, and all I can say is that it is about time we get to hear this guy front and center with his own CD! This is a great album of songs, with three penned by Fletcher and a choice of some fine tunes to cover.

Fletcher starts us off with El Medeo Stomp, a slick, up tempo original instrumental that whets the palate for more of his lively and hot riffs. Kirk makes his vocal debut on record with Jimmy Reed’s “Found Love”. His voice is up to the task; the gravelly vocals are pretty good. The real selling point is the guitar work that is superbly wicked on the solos, especially with an un-credited mandolin filling in nicely the background. “Natural Anthem” is a grooving instrumental and features Fletcher leading the charge with his well paced and steady guitar; when he breaks into the solo it’s like a runaway train, but he manages to get under control and into the flow again and wails all the way to the end.

“Ain’t No Way” features Paulie Cerra on vocals, as does “Congo Square”. The former, a James Earl Thompson track, shines with Cerra and Fletcher trading off vocals and guitar leads. The traditional latter song is all funked out. The vocals by Cerra are quite cool and funky, but not as funky as Fletcher’s guitar. He is stellar here, too. The title track was written by Cerra and the bass player Travis Carltom, and evokes the thought that with this CD it truly is Fletcher’s turn to shine. Cerra plays a slightly restrained but slick sax throughout and the fuzzed out Fletcher guitar solo just rocks.

“Way Back Home” is a longer, sultry cut written by Wilton Lewis Felder. Cerra’s sax and Fletcher’s guitar are again the highlights; one has to really appreciate Kirk’s tone here as he winds his way through the slow,, funky beat. He finishes the cut with a little acoustic guitar. The original “Blues for Antone” is a huge slow blues guitar anthem, where Fletcher stretches out and leaves nothing on the table. If you want a big, greasy guitar number, this will fit the bill. Then Fletcher redoes Sly Stone’s “Let Me Have It All”, delivering another good vocal performance; this funky cut shows that he can really sing in addition to play guitar. He finishes with his own song “Continents End”, an ethereal rock guitar piece that is really out there and quite cool, yet shows blues elements interspersed between the spatial music. He channels a little Hendrix here.

This album is a gem. Fletcher is one of the best guitar players out there, and this CD showcases his skills. Joined by guitarist Michael Landau, who also produced the CD, and a host of other west Coast bluesmen, this CD is a must if you want to hear what the absolute best of the West Coast Blues scene.

Reviewed by Steve Jones

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