Sound: When I first heard Knowles playing on the first Back Door Slam album ('Roll Away'), a few other players instantly struck me. The first obvious yet prominent name that came to mind was Eric Clapton; most other artists that I thought of are/were influenced by Clapton in some way, so it seems irrelevant to mention them just yet. Knowles' playing and tone remains largely the same on 'Coming Up For Air' as it is on 'Roll Away', although there seems to be a greater degree of musical freedom for Knowles on this album.
The use of more instruments on this record is very prominent, giving Knowles' music a much 'fuller' sound. The appearance of Hammond Organ on multiple tracks is a welcome one, as is the huge contribution made by Peter Frampton here - co-producing the majority of the songs, co-writing a few, singing joint vocals on a few songs and offering duel guitar solos where they're needed.
As I have said though, he does not abandon his talent in blues at all. Some tracks adopt slightly different rythms and sub-styles here and there but his guitar continues to wail out clear blues lines, reminiscent of Joe Bonamassa, John Mayer and, of course, Clapton. Nearly half-way through the album, Davy combines his blues skills with that of a small gospel-styled choir in a cover of George Harrison's "Hear Me Lord". I feel as though Harrison's musical influence continues through the next song ("Amber's Song"), as it sounds almost Beatles-esque in my ears.
My issue of the album contains a bonus track, a beautiful duet with Jonatha Brooke entitled "Taste of Danger". I feel that this particular song only enhances my rating of the album, especially with the appearance of legendarry session drummer, Steve Gadd. If you like the sounds of artists like Joe Bonamassa (his lighter works, perhaps), you'll most certainly like this album. // 8
Lyrics and Singing: I'd say that the majority of this album is run by typical blues lyrics; from the simple blues stylings in "Mistakes" and "Coming Up For Air" to woeful tales like that of "Riverbed". I must say that near-all of the lyrics in this album are fairly well-written (as in the previously mentioned "Riverbed") though some feel too brief in my mind ("Ambers Song").
As for Knowles' vocal style, I seem again drawn to Clapton and Bonamassa, which would sum Davy's vocals up completely for those who are familiar. For those who aren't, the words "Powerful", "Soulful" yet "Controlled" fit his style like a glove. // 7
Impression: Personally, I quite liked this album. Davy Knowles kind of epitomises how modern day blues players should sound for me - I can't be far wrong when he's described by Joe Satriani himself as his "..new favourite modern-day bluesman". This is going to sound stupid now, but the one thing that I really must ridicule the album for heavily is the cover art. The cover depicts a rather cartoon-ish pair of turtles, which would be fitting for a teen-pop album, for example. The cover suggests no links to Knowles' great blues playing whatsoever in my eyes, which is a shame. I know it's a stupid comment and it's most likely just personal preferance, but I think it needed to be said, and I think I'm right. // 7
- Anthony Bentley (c) 2013