Under The Gun (2010)

Doug Gray - guitar, harmonica, vocals
Dave Smith - guitar
Nick Devilin - slide guitar
Big Ears Thompson - bass
Fingers Malone - keyboard
Sticks Gibson - Drums
Marcia Ramirez - back-up vocals
Ray Barnette - back-up vocals

01 - Whiskey In Your Country And Reffer In Rock & Roll 03:55
02 - Voodoo Children 04:03
03 - Grapevine Betty 05:07
04 - Little Bit Of Love 03:55
05 - Under The Gun 03:51
06 - Left With The Blues 02:28
07 - Missing You 04:26
08 - Flashbacks 04:30
09 - Till The End Of Time 02:58
10 - Like Them Blondes 03:06

The name can lead to confusion, so let's specify here immediately that we are not here speaking about the Marshall Tucker Band's frontman ! Well, it deserved to be announced, and after that the things will be alright. This one doesn't come from Carolina but from Arkansas! The experts wouldn't have made the mistake, so much the two vocal organs of our Dougs are different : to a kind of sweetness in the coating of the powerfull asset of the most well known answers here a vocal tool finer but more cantakerous, like the album for that matter that takes place quiet far from the lands usually scoured by the MTB. More than clearly country roots, we are here in front of a base in the boogie and the blues, even if, southern rock oblige, our « country music » can sometimes appear, but in a « new country » version : that rocks, like the first powerful title of the album, embellished with a delightful piano solo right in the tradition, shows us!

Tradition, the word is come out with, and we can't expect here strange innovations, but a well done job that often swings very pleasantly. The different styles are a bit mixed, just like the southern tradition requires, from the second tune, a blues a bit funky highlighted again by an excellent guitar solo and a very good support from the piano, before turning the Skynyrdian « Grapevine Betty », shuffling blues rock embellished by a quiet delightful slide, but with a treatment remembering more the current Skynyrd than the one of Ed King or Steve Gaines. An excellent guitar intro launches « Little Bit Of Love », blues proceeding smoothly, before the title that gave its name to the album where we can noticed good guitar parts, especially a very good Strat'. The following tunes, although very well played, are lacking a bit originality : «  Left With The Blues », between Texas and Chicago, stays very classical till the end, with its square rhythmsection and its honky-tonk piano smelling the dive, «  Missing You » is landed with the « killing slow-blues that lets sniff » role, but its technique is a bit to unsurprising and it prevents it to take off despite a good feeeling and a wonderful guitar work. « Flashbacks » relaunches all the stuff, badly swinging in the Dan Baird/Georgia Satellites bluesy rock style, with again well fit soli, here from the organ and the guitar. All those things are really very well done, but without this touch of originality or combination that brings the whole thing in another universe. « Till The End Of Time » finally brings a more personal touch in the « funk strums blues » style (the guitarists will understand...) that also swings badly, and the album closes with the statement of the fantasies of our Doug du jour, between new country (when you see the lyrics, are you surprised?) and ZZ Top, a little in a « Sharp Dressed Man » way.

Finally, we have a very pleasant album to listen to, quiet groovy, that will surely please all the people who don't want to go very far from the beaten tracks, all the more so some faultless instrumental parts contribute to our pleasure, but a touch of madness and a little part of complexity and originality are missing in the compositions to ignite the passions. But not to be despised nevertheless !

Y. Philippot-Degand

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