During COVID 19 times, New Zealand arose not only like an isolated island in the midst of the Pacific Ocean but as an example to be followed regarding pandemic control. But, sometimes, very good news from there can be related to music too. Oscar LaDell is a 21-year-old bluesman based in Dunedin, New Zealand. His debut album, Gone Away, came out to show to the rest of the world that the blues’ torch is alive, and well-represented by the new generation.
The first and self-titled song, “Gone Away”, mixes some elements from the traditional Delta blues, like dobro slides and harmonica, with elements from contemporary blues, like fuzz pedals and other effects. “On The Daily” and “Walk Away” are rock ballads ala Bill Haley, putting male and female vocals singing together. In “Stone Man”, the keyboards and guitar lines do excellent jobs, putting the vocals on an upper level.
As a rule, Gone Away contains simple and good songs, recorded in a more raw way, highlighting the musicians and the instrument tones. Besides the enthusiastic guitar solos, in “Time For Love” and “Drifting Thru Time”, you can notice that R&B is another important influence in the LaDell’s music. “Don’t Ask” is a traditional blues song that would make Howlin’ Wolf very proud. I like it when I get myself, late at night, involuntarily whistling a song that I heard in the morning. Surely, it’s a sign that the songwriting job was well done. “One More Time” is the kind of song with this sort of quality.
It’s plain to see that the new blues generation keeps digging lyrics into fields of broken hearts and unanswered loves. And it keeps showing one of the most fascinating sides of the blues music: the high emotional burden delivered through a song. So, beyond this burden, the fantastic playing and well-built solos make “Do Me Wrong” and “Queen” songs that get LaDell’s footprint in the blues territory.
Blues, generally, is seen by the youngsters as a kind of old school music. But, for those ones who let the blues get inside, it grabs them by the heart. It’s nice to see that young bluesmen like Oscar LaDell not only keep learning from their elders but also putting their soul into the music. For sure, with Gone Away, LaDell got to extract more than the essential, channeling his musical influences without losing originality.
The Review: 8/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Gone Away
– On the Daily
– Don’t Ask
The Big Hit
– Gone Away