Artur Menezes: Keep Pushing Review

There’s a story, perhaps apocryphal, about Albert King being able to palm a small pistol in his giant, Johnny Bench-like hands. This allowed him to slap people while also firing the pistol, making the recipient of the aforementioned slap think they had been shot, rather than merely slapped by a huge hand. True or not, it perfectly describes King’s stinging guitar-playing, which relies on lots of string bending to dramatically change the pitch of notes, creating a sound which can punch through songs like a slap or a gunshot. Or both. Singer/guitarist Artur Menezes, originally of Brazil and now of Los Angeles, is a King disciple who shows his devotion on Keep Pushing, which features plenty of King-inspired moments, with lots of horns and a decidedly rhythm-and-blues groove, over which Menezes executes lots of King-style soloing.

Which brings us to another, perhaps more famous, King disciple, Stevie Ray Vaughan. Vaughan took King’s playing to a whole other level, with wider bends and wilder runs. It was Albert King through the lens of post-Van Halen guitar playing, but with lots of speed, and tone, but also plenty of feel. Menezes is much more faithful to King’s sound, which on the one hand is admirable, but on the other hand, makes things much harder for him, in that he’s competing head-to-head, relatively speaking, with the blues idol King, where Vaughan wisely chose to change the musical terrain. Menezes manages to find some nice moments, though.

For instance, the title track is a blues gallup a la Vaughan’s “Pride and Joy.” However, Menezes wisely goes with a poppy chorus that you’ll have trouble getting out of your head. The guitar work complements the song and his vocals are strong. Menezes’ voice is a real asset, a great rock voice with just the right touch of bluesy impudence. In fact, the album’s best song is successful not just because of solid guitar playing, but because of Menezes vocals. “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” begins jazzy, complete with muted trumpets and sustaining organ. Menezes even borrows the opening lyric of the standard “Misty,” starting things up with “Look at me…” But he keeps the song interesting by moving things to a more upbeat tempo and a funkier beat, then launching into a Allman Brothers-like guitar solo before returning to jazz. The song is weird but also fantastic. Menezes relaxed vocals play a huge part in making the song work.

Menezes is a good guitar player. His style is decidedly out of the Albert King playbook, as well as lots of 1970s classic rock. He’s not flashy, instead always playing in service to the song. His voice is at its best when he’s working with dynamics, moving from quiet to loud and chill to intense. Keep Pushing has some interesting moments for listeners interested in a laid-back, King-inspired blues album.

The Review: 7/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Keep Pushing
– Now’s the Time
– Should Have Never Left
– Can’t Get You Out of My Head

The Big Hit

– Can’t Get You Out of My Head

Review by Steven Ovadia

Buy the album: Amazon | Amazon UK

Steven Ovadia

Steven Ovadia interviews blues artists about their songwriting process for Working Mojo.

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