CD REVIEW: Mark Kerr - One Drink Away from the Blues
By Alex Jasperse - 03/07/2007 - 10:49 AM EST
Artist: Mark Kerr
Album: One Drink Away from the Blues 
Genre: Blues, Texas Blues
Production/Musicianship Grade: 9/10
Songwriting Skills: 9/10
Performance Skill: 9.5/10
Imagine opening up the most fragile parts of your life and laying them on public display. Imagine doing this honestly, and not having any of it glossed over by other commentators or reviewers. Now imagine having your music bared to scrutiny. Although there’s no real obligation to tell the perfect truth, nor are there people there to really demand so, when there’s a simplicity in the writing process, there’s an energizing honesty conveyed.
Mark Kerr’s latest release, One Drink Away from the Blues, is a modern blues album with a wide sonic palette. Fusing together a variety of blues, rock, jazz and even metal techniques, its outright honesty unfolds and offers up an emotionally-engaging snapshot of some of Kerr’s troubled days gone by. With a timeless voice, and huge feelings rustling beneath every song, gone are all traces of artificiality, revealing a magnetic charisma and charm that’s well traveled, with plenty of stories to share.
With a mouth-watering tone that could even make Santana weak kneed, Kerr’s earnestly passionate and technically stellar guitar runs dominate much of the record. While his incorporation of simultaneous lead and rhythm parts draw many comparisons to B.B. King and Stevie Ray Vaughn, his use of tone and attack cite players like Steve Vai and Jimmie Hendrix as immediate influences. Unlike those who've taken another turn and have gone the wrong way, Kerr’s open and visible celebration of his influences adds a new flavour to a very familiar genre.
“Low Down Dirty Shame” is an all-out, emotionally-driven duel between tortured lyrics and spine tingling guitar leads. This passion and complexity reappears in tracks like “Thinkin and Drinkin” and “The Thrill is Gone”, leading listeners through troublesome tales with a reflective evaluation of the days gone by. Kerr’s guitar acrobatics mixed with his gut-deep vocal testimonials are never anything less than satisfying.
Even with the clearly dark subjects in many of the tracks, there is an underlying theme to this album that shines throughout: beauty and grace. It is an expression of frustration and maturation inspiring change. Highlighted in tracks like the beautiful instrumental, “Elevator Love”, it is a bold statement of readjusting priorities and changing directions in life.
The only detail that may stand in the way of Kerr’s obvious talent is the recording quality. Dating One Drink Away from the Blues back to the mid-1980s, an overhaul of the audio positioning and the tonal quality of the drums and bass begs for more attention than given. But because there’s not a bad performance here, the outstanding compositions are good enough to cover up the production missteps.
Mark Kerr’s ability to make his guitar talk and wail with the coloured depths of human emotion is what makes One Drink Away from the Blues an album that could push the boundaries of the blues even further. It’s openly straightforward in its intent, begging the question: what else could you ask for?
The Verdict: 9.1/10
For more information, please contact Mark at email@example.com
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