E D Brayshaw
Having waited 30 years to bring out his first album, the question that might have been raised in relation to a follow up, brought out with almost indecent haste a year later is, has the guitarist fallen foul of the difficult second album syndrome? It’s the old story; all those songs saved up over the years without an outlet, come flooding out, often leaving the well dry after the creativity has drained away. However, in this case the opposite is true; E D has smashed it out of the park and come up with a better offering than his first, pretty tasty album.
I don’t know what E D stands for (Egbert? Edwin? Ellery?) as there is sod all information available about him, even on his own site (which takes minimalism to new levels), but he is on a definite roll at the moment. You know what you are getting from track one; ‘Storm Warning’, is introduced with his trademark fat guitar tone ringing out on a flowing melody with the odd pinched, squealing note to give it that sense of suppressed energy; any restraint is lifted for an impressive freewheeling solo.
‘Don’t Change the Way I Feel’ takes the mood down a notch on a brooding, slower paced song that’s thoughtful construction, not to mention vocal style, brings Mark Knopfler’s solo work to mind (although that esteemed gent doesn’t seem to want to wig out as much as E D does here, on another explosive and extended solo). The quality and imagination of his song writing is displayed on ‘Just Another Night’, a sumptuous Blues number with Nick Bevan’s bass high in the mix, as the guitarist invokes the ghosts of SRV, Duane Allman and Roy Buchanan, and unleashes some fiery Blues soloing that those gents would no doubt have approved of.
‘Take It Away’ changes the feel yet again, with its Country beat and chord changes on the chorus that brings another guitar great to mind, namely the one and only JJ Cale. The noodling guitar lines here are surely a tribute to that particular laid-back troubadour (the lyrics even refer to Greyhound buses and trains, not to mention include the phrase “Crazy mama”). Either way, it’s a delightful track.
‘Probably Correct’ has a frothy, Jazzy feel, and some witty lyrics that perfectly accompany this jumping little number. The extended soloing that emerges organically from the bones of the song, in a long closing passage, takes the feel in and out of the Blues and back into Jazz. Really excellent playing. ‘Fade Away’ has a bubbling bass line and a tight rhythm guitar part (presumably courtesy of Phillip Brannan, who is credited in the supporting role) that provides the bedrock for some more enjoyable soloing.
Despite the abundance of fiery guitar work, these songs are not just loose vehicles for E D to show off his fretboard skills. The songs all have interesting content and the lyrics are surprisingly good. As described, there are a range of styles on display; ‘Tennessee Blues’ is just what you might imagine and features a nice little repeated acoustic guitar motif that is even more reminiscent of latter day Knopfler territory.
The remaining tracks are along the same lines, apart from the closing instrumental track, a beautiful version of Sydney Bechet’s ‘Petite Fleur’, that is played at a 2am in the morning, smoky (well, not anymore, unless you’re somewhere like Russia) nightclub feel. I wouldn’t be complaining if the whole album was comprised of similar covers. That of course would not enable the guitarist, or should we now be saying songwriter, to display his considerable skills. This is a very accomplished album that shows that E D Brayshaw is here to stay as a solo artist; well worth investigating.