Okay, so it’s the eve of the big release, and while The Boss is safely out the way on tour in Europe, here’s my fuller thoughts on Eyes Wide Open:-
One, two; one, two, tree, four – and we’re off with Steve A locking down a boiling bass-line that sweeps up a swirl of keyboard, pounding drums and a siren like guitar-riff; Aynsley’s out for All Your Love, and this driving opener is going to get it. Pounding along until a drag down the strings segues into a hot, spitting solo that’s vintage Lister. Keeping the pressure up, Everything I Have To Give salutes classic Bluesbreakers and is underpinned by a Stax-style horn section just under the Wurlitzer keys and a dynamic Clapton-esque solo.
Then, Il Grande Mafioso a new soundscape; an acoustic intro with a Sicilian feel leads into a slow, swaggering rhythm and a tale of some low-life being hauled through some back street Atlantic City dive for a showdown with Tony Soprano style boss. “Scarface” Price on the Hammond while “Dutch” Holland indolently fingers an old piano that sounds like its seen better days and all the time, “Crazy” Steve & “Marcellus” Dryden keep the swagger driving. This is probably Aynsley’s quirkiest piece to date, reverb and vibrato set to the max, for a solo like been taken down a dark damp tunnel; to sleep with the fishes. Just remember; “When they send for you, you go in alive, you come out dead, and it’s your best friend that does it.”
Won’t Be Taken Down is back to more standard fare, a building ballad that outros with another searing Lister solo that’s fresh & dynamic almost like a live take. Time, a rockier number seems to find Aynsley looking back on a 20 year career as well as being on the cusp of a new decade in life; reflective but not moribund.
Dishevelled, and Aynsley’s back to the Blues, with a sleazy little number of clandestine, casual encounters in the night.
Troubled Soul, is a short, instrumental pieces, delicately played and leading into Kalina; a very tender tribute to 22y old student Kalina Makarewicz who tragically took her own life after warning signs were missed.
Lifting the pace back again, Handful of Doubt is another classic Lister rocker, leading into the album’s one cover and a labour of love it is. Aynsley’s long been a fan of Tommy Castro and Right As Rain is a great choice. There’s no great changes in the arrangement from the master’s original though Aynsley obviously couldn’t resist a storm of a solo playing the song out.
Other Part of Me and Stay are the only two songs I’ve heard on the road prior to this release and I’m glad they made the cut for the album. Other Part of Me I would call Home Pt 2. Stay also has echoes of another song which I can’t pin down; it has that sort of catchy hook that both familiar and elusive.
That should have been the end of things, but seemingly, out of the blue comes bonus track Hold You To It, and it’s like someone’s put a hotplate under your feet (elsewhere, if you’re sitting); the howling Hammond and the triumphant horns, this is New York meets Memphis head on, but I swear there’s a Motown bass kicking under there and these guys are having fun. Oh Yeah.
So, aided and abetted with usual suspects Steve Amadeo on Bass, Boneto Dryden behind the Drums, Andrew Price on keys; Chris Aldridge on Sax, Bryan Corbett – trumpet, Dale Gibson –trombone and last but not least Bennett Holland on keys & backing vocals, Aynsley has taken us, lyrically, on a ride though how he’s seeing life, personally, it’s ups and downs. Musically, this has been his first self-produced album, and a great chance to as he puts it “rip out on the guitar”, which he does, but never self-indulgently. And also, the opportunity is taken to explore new soundscapes; and with a backing band like that, why the Hell not.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJqsj3JPzqQ All Of Your Love (Chislehurst)
Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana...