London based singer/songwriter is the obvious description for Duke Garwood…. BUT he is so much more as he delivers an experimental sound that is dipped in roots music and never drenched. He is on the edges of what is seen as on trend in the blues/roots world of music as he explores the depth and colours of the multitude of instruments he can play.
The vocals are moody and the whispered delivery is at times other-worldly, in the next breath there is an undertone of all that is sinister, they are delivered with rough despair of a voice well-travelled in emotional highs and lows.
This is definitely not a traditional album, this is blues that has been twisted, mangled dried out until the delta and the bayou is a place yet for the roots of blues to reach. The album has a dryness about it full of dry hurting tortured heat as seen on the title track as portrayed in the ghostly backing vocals of Savages, Jehnny Beth. The theme of a desert continues as the blues is more from dry Saharan sands evoking the passions of the Tuareg.
The whole sound is stripped back with broody demons and overtones and layers of sounds, echoes and the portrayal of yearning wind often in the distance all created with a superb sense of time and space producing a sublime guitar; and the story unfolding makes this an album that is intriguing, reflective and above all else very good – yes different but for all the right reasons. Heavy Love, should break the secret seal around Duke Garland a great artist that should be heard by many as he brings the special moody, meditative sound that he creates.
There is no track that is a make-weight or filler they have all been considered and placed in context of the whole album. Disco Lights is no tribute to Travolta it is a different type of fever, the mood stays the same no up-beat dance tune but the inclusion of a female singer for this track and an electric guitar that resonates straight to your soul. Snake Man is definitely a hot desert sound inspiring sound pictures of desert bleakness with percussion and howling sound like an impending sandstorm, with a sinister undertone and lyrics that curl around your ears; “snake honey from your tongue” sung with a seductive and beguiling force.
The closing track Hawaiian Death Song finishes the album at the sea with haunting guitar and vocals that have created a real tone poem, as imaginary of your contemplation of the music washes over you is this the end or the beginning. What I do know, I want to hear more from this superb artist and definitely catch him playing live during 2015.
Bluesdoodles gives this CD NINE doodle paws out of TEN ….