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Lister, Aynsley: Eyes Wide Open

I first encountered British blues guitarist Aynsley Lister when he hit the stage in an oddly mismatched co-headline show with It Bites back in 2010. Even with most of the audience expecting some sort of progressive rock love in (myself included), Lister's set genuinely dropped jaws and had folks scurrying to the merch desk to find out more. The album Lister was promoting that night, Equilibrium, was a wondrous thing, the crossover between blues, melodic rock and pop a balance few would be brave enough to attempt, never mind achieve with such resounding success. Since then the super talented guitarist and vocalist has never quite revisited that same style, instead focusing more on the blues sound that underpins all his work. Eyes Wide Open follows a similar path but it does also incorporate a little more of that accessible side that sets this bluesman apart from the countless others out there. At first "All Of Your Love", "Won't Be Taken Down" or "Handful Of Doubt" seem to only celebrate the blues rock traditions and yet once they get under your skin and you under theirs, so you begin to realise that there's much more going on. Recorded with the ethos of finding the most energetic take, rather than the 'perfect' one, the vim that oozes from these memorable workouts is irresistible and when you combine that to Lister and his band's innate ability to make everything they touch sound so natural and unforced, they make a mighty mark.

Dig deeper however and the riches really begin to flow, the wonderfully deft and emotional guitar piece "Troubled Soul", a captivating introduction to the equally transfixing "Kalina", the latter a song that truly engages on an emotional level lyrically and musically. "Il Grande Mafioso" opens like incidental music from a gangster flick, before evolving into a thumping thunder of intent and threat, while somehow remaining a catchy sway that carries you along. While the bonus cut "Hold You To It" closes things out with organ blaring and brass bleating boldly, changing the focus again, while still sounding right at home on an album that delivers each and every time.

Ably assisted by a band who know exactly how to provide the authentic base from which Lister's dextrous six-string work takes flight and his knowing, lived in voice thrives, what this eclectic bluesman has delivered with Eyes Wide Open really is impressive. There may be more famous and celebrated guitarists in this genre right now, but that doesn't stop this album being the best blues based collection you'll hear all year.

Track Listing
1. All Of Your Love
2. Everything I Have To Give
3. Il Grande Mafioso
4. Won't Be Taken Down
5. Time
6. Dishevelled
7. Troubled Soul (Intro)
8. Kalina
9. Handful Of Doubt
10. Right As Rain
11. Other Part Of Me
12. Stay
13. Hold You To It

Added: October 2nd 2016
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Aynsley Lister online
Hits: 1140
Language: english

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