Gwyn Ashton: Sonic Blues Preachers Review

Gwyn Ashton delivers again with his 2019 album Sonic Blues Preachers. Ashton, nearing 60 years-old, tours the world doing one-man, psychedelic, electric blues and intimate acoustic shows. For Ashton’s ninth studio album, he teams up with John Freeman, who started his career alongside Bon Scott in Fraternity. The veteran blues drummer, Freeman, adds a groovy beat to Ashton’s powerful voice and guitar.

Sonic Blues Preachers is a traditional blues interpretation and a dynamic journey through the mind of a man tortured by lust. The album immediately kicks into gear with “She’s What I Like,” a song hinting at the overall theme of the album and filled with Ashton’s dirty feedback as well as one of the best solos on the album. Next up is “Candy Store,” a slower song full of innuendo. Mellow vocals and guitar quicken into a faster, dirty chorus and a rocking solo full of reverb. “Candy Store,” as well as a few songs later in the album, are reminiscent of Led Zeppelin II or Physical Graffiti, this one perhaps a reference to Zeppelin’s “Candy Store Rock.” Impressively, the two band members never leave the listener begging for a bassist as they take turns continuously driving each song forward. Throughout the song ”Soul for Sale,” which immediately calls to Pink Floyd’s somber minor-key tracks and AC/DC’s juicy intros, Ashton’s unique, gritty voice shines.

By the fifth song, “This Old Fool,” monotony begins to set in, but Ashton’s epic slide guitar skills – present throughout the album – are front and center. His solos on almost every song illustrate an ability to incorporate Delta blues with his mean Australian rocker persona. “Take Yourself Away” brings the album back to life, quickening the pace and giving the listener a huge chorus and heavy bass riffs with kicks of treble. Ashton ends Sonic Blues Preachers with two songs, “She’s Lost Her Power” and “Waiting Game” that give the album’s story continuity and a rich blues-roots feel. Throughout the album the listener craves some complexity in the lyrics, yet listening from start to finish is an experience. Again showing his dynamic ability to incorporate old-school sounds into his psychedelia, Ashton’s impressive simultaneous rhythm and bass playing and traditional blues outro in “She’s Lost Her Power” lead into the snare-heavy and cerebral “Waiting Game.” The latter offers a solo that invokes the feeling of lost love and its associated pain.

Ashton and Freeman offer a treat with Sonic Blues Preachers, filling each song with traditional blues and modern effects. Alternating driving bass with fun, bluesy riffs and runs, they give the album impressive instrumentation, complemented by powerful feedback and vocals. This album will be in the running for best blues album of the year, and the two veteran Aussies give hope that they will work together again.

The Review: 8/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Candy Store
– Soul for Sale
– Take Yourself Away
– She’s Lost Her Power
– Waiting Game

The Big Hit

– Take Yourself Away

Review by Spencer Rubin

Buy the album: Amazon | Amazon UK

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