Richard V. : In the wake of Joe Bonamassa and Kenny Wayne Sheperd many new blues rock guitarists stood up in the past decade. One of them is Philip Sayce who joined the backing band of the late Jeff Healey as a teenager and later played in Uncle Kraker's band and with Melissa Etheridge. For the past few years he performs under his own name. He is strongly influenced by icons like Hendrix, Clapton, Page and Vaughan and his fourth album 'Steamroller' reflects that. However, Sayce is no clone of his examples, but throws new elements in the mix. Unlike many contemporaries he does not play predictable blues rock, but adds Brit rock, funk and modern pop music flavours to his compositions.
The title track has a driving rock riff and provides an energetic start of the album. The following 'Stung By A Woman' has a jumpy rhythm and is packed with funk influences. The third number, 'Marigold' is once again completely different. It is an atmospheric ballad on which Sayce not plays only sensitive, but also sings his heart out. If his wife is as beautiful as the song, I am curious how she looks. On the rugged 'Black Train' we hear contemporary influences of Lenny Kravitz. The Led Zep stamp appears for the first time on 'Rhythm And Truth'. Half way through the album, it's safe to state that Sayce knows how to write a decent tune and dares and is not afraid to try new things. The urge to experiment goes further on 'The Bull', a song that seasoned blues rock lovers will need time to get used to. 'Holding On' is the least appealing song, but the soaring solo makes us forgive the rather mediocre tune. On 'Beautiful' the heavy funk influences return. Sayce should do a jam session with Glenn Hughes, those two men share so many musical preferences that a collaboration could result in some nice surprises. The rhythm of 'A Mystic' reminds us of bands like the Kaiser Chiefs and gives a playful touch to the conservative blues rock genre. The closing melodic instrumental 'Aberstwyth', named after Sayce's birth place in Wales, shows Sayce's virtuosity and closes the album in a worthy, but not spectacular way.
Philip Sayce is a talented and interesting composer, guitar player and singer who refreshes blues rock and is not afraid to head into new directions. 'Steamroller' is a strong album of the Welshman of which we will hear much more in the future.