Review: Gravel Road — ‘Capitol Hill Country Blues’


Seattle quartet Gravel Road digs a little deeper into the world of Deep trance-blues and psychedelic jam chunk rock on Capitol Hill Country Blues, their sixth studio album released in December of 2016.

The nine new tracks were recorded and mixed by legendary engineer Jack Endino in late 2015 & early 2016. The band’s signature sound of a duel guitar attack and detuned heavy rhythm section that they describe as if “John Lee Hooker played with Black Sabbath,” remains true to the form that earned them a strong fan base.

The bands many a sojourn to North Mississippi Hill Country has no doubt influenced them to create a new blend of Northwest rock with trance blues and deep soul grooves. The opening title track borrows heavily from Fat Possum Icon R.L Burnside and his sons who perfected the hypnotic boogie, played here with loving tribute that should open the door of discovery for Seattle hipsters. The sweet alt country swing of “Come And Gone,” follows with an easy to sing along to melody over shimmering guitars, and the curious combination of minor key dissonant guitar leads over a jaunty shuffle and B3 stabs make the introspective narrative “Back Yard,” a full-on acid trip.

The guitars return to delicious southern fried slide and picking for the Slim Harpo styled stomp “Rather Be Lonely,” and dance floor shout out “One More Dollar.” The full tilt boogie “Rabbit Run,” is an infectious head bopping fuzz fest that would make John Lee proud. The re-imagined heavy blues of “Song To Darkness,” has a gothic C.O.C vibe and the overdriven guitars trade barbs while the rhythm section that consists of Jon Kirby Newman (bass), and Martin Reinsel (drums) maintain a relentless two beat assault for the marathon instrumental track “Green Lungs.” The album closes with the mighty fine delta blues celebration “I Feel High,” featuring solo acoustic guitar and soaring clean vocals from Stefan Zillioux as a tasty finale of tone.

(If you’d like to purchase the album, click HERE.  You can also listen below via Soundcloud.)

Rick Bowen

Rick grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan playing in school band, choir and show bands. While earning a BA at Western Michigan University in History and Social Science, he was a member of the Bronco marching band and jazz ensemble Gold Company. Moving to the Northwest in 1994, Rick soon landed gigs and sessions with many diverse local artists and is currently a member of the award winning Stacy Jones Band and the host of the all ages School of Jam. Rick is also an associate producer and session musician for Critical Sun Recordings, a contributing writer at Innocent Words, Seattle Examiner, No Depression, The Washington Blues Society and S.T.E.A.M magazine, and serves on the board of directors for the Washington Blues Society. Rick is endorsed by and plays THUMPER CUSTOM DRUMS. Awards: Washington Blues Society “Best of the Blues” award 2009 Best New Band –Stacy Jones Band WBS “Best of the Blues” award 2012 Best Blues Jam - Oxford Saloon Monday Night Jam 2013 & 2014 WBS Best Blues Writer award. 2014 WBS Chris Leighton Blues Drummer BB Award. Nominations: 2009 & 2013 Best Blues Drummer WBS BB awards. 2012 Best NW recording “No Need To Spell it Out –Stacy Jones Band (Rick J Bowen co producer)

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