|Personnel: 'Lucy's Dad' (cello); Dave Armstrong (keyboards); Ross Doyle (drums); Shane Kerwin (percussion); Christine Collister, Christy DeHaven, Shaz Cleator, Rob Cross , Christy D., Dave Cain, Joe Carter Hawkins, Davy Knowles (background vocals).
|Who would have thought the guy who sang "money for nothing and your chicks for free" could inspire a kid to grow up and become one of the most promising bluesmen of his generation -- at the tender age of 20? The listener doesn't need to know the back story of this slamming, high-intensity Isle of Man-based blues-rock trio led by multi-talented singer, songwriter, and guitarist Davy Knowles to be inspired by the band's blistering excitement. But like all tales of great blues makers, origins are important, so here goes: at age 11, Knowles was in the car with his father and heard Dire Straits' "Sultans of Swing," which changed his life and put him on a mission to explore Dad's vast record collection. This included John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Eric Clapton, Peter Green, and Rory Gallagher. Then Knowles started listening to their influences, soaking up Blind Willie Johnson and Robert Johnson. Back Door Slam's in-your-face debut rumbles out of the gate with the rollicking rocker "Come Home," a perfect intro to Knowles' crisply sizzling licks and gruff, wise, and pained-beyond-his-years vocals. The slow-burning "Heavy on My Mind" is the song Clapton wishes he wrote, with Knowles completely capturing the legend's vibe and intensity while bringing fresh invention to that style. After another edgy jam session ("Outside Woman Blues"), Back Door Slam simmer down ever so slightly for the gently percolating "Gotta Leave," which gives Knowles a chance to express the deeper emotion of his artistry. And the sparse, acoustic guitar-driven "Stay" and the title track are a fine examples of his strong emotional songwriting without much adornment or backup. Other tracks like "Too Late" and "Too Good for Me" have country-rock crossover potential while never letting listeners forget they're listening to a true blues heart. Back Door Slam are the second solid discovery Blix Street has made in the last decade; the label's first, the late songbird Eva Cassidy, became a posthumous sensation in the U.K. before touching millions in the U.S. Back Door Slam also have the potential to be successful on both sides of the pond. ~ Jonathan Widran