Blues Deluxe is the self-released instrumental debut from UK-based guitarist Ed Dampier. The tight 7-song set has Dampier combining the styles and tones of such classic players as Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix with a heavy dose of twang, and Eric Johnson-like modernism. Though Dampier is a solid player with a ‘classic rock’ leaning feel, the songs themselves are what make this a fun record.
On the in-your-face opener “Overture,” Dampier uncorks a barrage of rapid fire open string pull-off licks that never lets up. It sends the dead-on message that this is going to be a ‘Strat rock’ album with bluesy shades and catchy riffs. “Sidewinder Blues” - one of the album’s best tracks - has a more laid back, almost country-rock feel that’s propelled by Dampier’s snappy clean tones and Andre Antonio’s Hammond organ. The melodies in this song are great too - very memorable and anthemic. Dampier peels off some nice leads here as well with a smooth overdriven tone.
After the Eric Johnson-esque solo electric interlude “Snowfall In Spring,” things get funky on the uptempo “Two Worlds Collide” - a cool track, though it may have benefited from some supportive keyboard work, ala “Sidewinder Blues,” to add some background beef. On “More Love More Power,” Dampier presents a dramatic ballad full of great chordal work and dynamic leads. Portions of this tune reminded me of “Villanova Junction" from Hendrix’s Woodstock performance.
The album’s magnum opus, however, is “Archipelago.” This is an epic tune of Zeppelin proportions that begins subtly by introducing the main riff via solo acoustic guitar, before layering on more themes, guitar tones and instrumentation as the song moves forward. It’s easily the album’s finest showcase of Dampier’s overall talents.
In stark contrast to heaviness of “Archipelago,” the album closes with the fingerstyle acoustic piece “Cascades” - a ringing ballad that shows Dampier’s softer side while maintaining a Pierre Bensusan-like jauntiness throughout.
If you’re a fan of twangy blues rock and bright, clear strat tones, Blues Deluxe is an album you can leave on and enjoy from beginning to end. With this disc, Dampier demonstrates a knack for writing catchy tunes with a focus on melody and strong riffs as opposed to endless solos. This is definitely an artist to keep an eye on.
Ed Dampier - Blues Deluxe
Ed Dampier - Guitars
Yves Fernandez - Bass
Ed Carlile - Drums
Andre Antonio - Keys and Percussion
2. Sidewinder Blues
3. Snowfall In Spring
4. Two Worlds Collide
5. More Love More Power