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CD REVIEW: SKY HIGH – Stone & Gravel

| 20 January 2016 | Reply

CD REVIEW: SKY HIGH – Stone & Gravel
Pike Records
25 September, 2015
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
8 ½ /10

Sky High - Stone and Gravel cover

Veteran Swedish blues guitarist Clas Yngström and his band of brothers (Arne Blomqvist on bass and drummer Marcus Källström) Sky High have delivered a great album – the band’s seventeenth!! – in Stone & Gravel.

Huge in his home country Sweden, Yngström enjoyed a couple of hit records back in the ‘80s, and has been touring different line-ups of Sky High ever since, making their way not only around the festivals and blues clubs of Europe, but also as far afield as India, Ecuador, the United States, Thailand, the Soviet Union and South Africa!

Here Yngström channels Jimi Hendrix and Billy Gibbons equally, his searing, soaring guitar tone a match for just about anyone on planet Rock. Couple that with his stoney, gravelling (ouch) vocals, and you have some reet gritty blues going down.

Yngström sets the tone from the kickoff with Pretty Young Women (And Dirty Old Men): that’s what rock n’ roll has been about since time began, and he’s not going to rock the boat now. One Step Back is a roaring blues co-written by Gibbons himself and Jerry Lynn Williams, who has written for the likes of Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Tina Turner in his time.

A New Old Style (Old Farts Boogie) shows Yngström has a self deprecating style, but old fart or not, the boy can play, and this is another boogie shuffle with the scorching guitar vying for attention with the cheeky lyrics and instantly catchy tune.

Yngström sings in English throughout, making for a few phrases that sound unnecessarily wordy – but even though he’s not working in his native language he always makes his lyrics work, putting the story front and centre, and playing his axe around it.

Holy Grounds plays worship to Bethel, the site of Woodstock and ground zero for Yngström’s heroes – Gods, even – while Trixie May tells the story of a small town girl who wants to be a singing star but takes a few wrong turns in her quest, and Yngström sounds like a souped-up Tony Joe White here. Album closer Sin City is a clear homage to Hendrix and features some of the best playing on the record.

Sky High is apparently a return to form for Yngström’s troopers. Not having heard any of their former glories, all I know is, Stone & Gravel is so good that I want to hear more – so I’m going to have to go back and start on Sky High’s previous sixteen records.

Shane

Category: CD Reviews

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