The man behind seminal rock bands The Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive is back after last releasing material with Fred Turner in 2010, which was the closest we would ever get to a BTO reunion. Heavy Blues is a more sincere exploration of rock and blues styles from someone who knows what rock and blues is all about. The songs are bare-boned realizations that stem from the life of a rich and vivid rock and roller.
A little aged in spirit, the songs still present a definitive element of rock that feels more like redemption than it does rebellion. And that’s okay because it all boils down to perspective from Bachman, looking both inside and out. He has always been a religious man, and this album sides more with his beliefs than maintaining the aggressiveness of guitar-driven rock. That does not mean his music on this album is washed out. It’s quite the opposite. “Learn To Fly” presents some excellent guitar work that comes so naturally to him. Where he once looked to jazz guitarist and his classical background as leanings to his solo, here he reaches for the more humid grit of blues-laden solos that are not gritty enough for my liking, but still impressive to enjoy.
“Bad Child” admits to some facetious behavior in the past, but “Ton of Bricks” sounds like a treatise of advice for young musicians coming into the business. And “Wild Texas Ride” presents psychedelic rock that proves this guy can still jam out. If you need proof that Bachman is still the real deal, this song is it. And then “Please Come To Paris” funnels that great ‘70s spirit of power rock tunes, and is probably one of my favorite homages to Jimi Hendrix that I can now cite. He adheres to the formula to a tee, much like “The Edge” is The Who minus the echoing scream.
Heavy Blues may not be an instant mind blower, but the album is consistent. Once the album ends, you find yourself nodding and thinking that was not bad at all. I look forward to the subsequent listens and pulling a song or two out as standouts.