Chris Duarte Group: My Soul Alone Review

After over two decades of making music, the Chris Duarte Group is still releasing tight new material that is as soulfully driven as it is fun and lighthearted. Given lead singer/guitarist Chris Duarte’s history with listeners likening him to fellow Texas blues luminaries like Stevie Ray Vaughan, as well as the talent he has demonstrated in the studio and on the road since his 1994 label debut Texas Sugar/Strat Magik, it’s no surprise that Duarte has maintained a lasting presence in the genre. On this high voltage trio’s latest effort My Soul Alone, the Chris Duarte Group unleashes fresh material that stacks up well beside catalog features of past years.

Some albums are memorable for the number of hit singles they deliver, but My Soul Alone is powerful because of the alternate approach it takes. Songs like “A Dollar Down and Feeling Low” and “Blue Jean Outlaw” come in at over eight minutes long each, and they both utilize that time to let the music develop at its own pace. “Lazy Afternoon” is the album’s longest track at a length of over eleven minutes, existing as a perfect example of the jazz elements that Duarte has a habit of working into his records. Painting a picturesque day of ease and relaxation through the lyrics, Duarte allows “Lazy Afternoon” to meander along just like the carefree rainy Sunday afternoon he sings about. Instead of rushing songs along to completion, the Chris Duarte Group invests their time in experimenting with the ways in which solos can enhance the larger compositions they exist in. Other tracks contrast with this exploratory method, diving into hook-worthy melodies like those in the opening track “Show Me That You Want It” and the rollicking “Outta My Way.” Above all, the band uses this record to demonstrate their understanding of the genre itself, identifying the songs that blossom beneath perfect melodies and those that reconcile best through extended arrangements with a few jazzy solos mixed in.

Named the “Best New Talent” in a 1995 poll published by Guitar Player, Duarte is still shining the gloss on the skill that listeners first saw and heard in him years ago. My Soul Alone is an enjoyable listen from start to finish, an embodiment of the kind of soulful blues rock that sheds light on the band’s creative process through the finished recordings. After years of touring and numerous record releases, the Chris Duarte Group maintains the spark that first rocketed them through fans’ stereo systems in the 1990s.

The Review: 8.5/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Show Me That You Want It
– Yes It’s True
– Outta My Way
– Lazy Afternoon

The Big Hit

– Show Me That You Want It

Review by Meghan Roos

Buy the album: Amazon | iTunes

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