This is Danny Bryant’s 11th studio album, and quite why this man is not celebrated far and wide as one of our greatest blues musicians is beyond me.
Whilst the album does not set out to break new ground, the quality shines through from the first song to the last with some exceptional work from the man himself and those he has assembled around him.
The album opens with perhaps my favourite track “Tired of Trying” which slowly pushes and urges you on to greater highs as it progresses. As with all the tracks, the guitar solos are superbly constructed and not a note is wasted.
“Too Far Gone” was apparently a first take recording along with the big band Danny has been using on some of his live shows, and it has that live feel with some lovely understated piano adding to the atmosphere.
The title track “Means of Escape” is now available as a single with an accompanying video (which is surprisingly modern visually) and is a classic blues-rock song. Danny’s notes on the song read “Through all periods of my life music has been a constant. Through good and bad. It has been my focus and my release; my means of escape.” Amen.
“Nine Lives” is the kind of blues song you could imagine being played for 11 minutes straight on stage without getting tired of it! OK so it is nothing “new”, but damn it is good, and I dare you to stay still whilst listening to it.
Possibly the only song that may split listeners is “Skin and Bone” – a heartfelt song written in memory of his father, it is just Danny and his acoustic guitar. It does perhaps alter the mood and flow of the album, but there is no getting around the emotion this song portrays, and personally I think Danny is both brave, and entitled, to wear his heart on display.
The final four songs slip sweetly one into another with some Hammond organ and horns beautifully driving “Warning Signs (In Her Eyes)”, before the exquisite ballad “Where The River Ends”. We are then treated to Danny on slide guitar throughout “Hurting Time”, a slow old-time blues track that takes you by the hand and walks you home to the final track “Mya”, which is a well-chosen album closer. In truth I didn’t even realise that the last track was an instrumental until my third playthrough, such is the journey that it takes you on as you close your eyes and merge with the world of Danny Bryant.
“Means of Escape” might sadly not attract a legion of new fans that the man surely deserves, but it is an album that any artist would be proud of and one which will sit proudly in my personal collection.
Danny Bryant’s new album “Means of Escape” is out now via Jazzhaus Records.