San Diego-based guitarist Patrick Yandall is a commanding force on New York Blues, his eighth release for Zangi Records. Conceived as a departure from the artist’s more smooth jazz oriented releases, this collection of 12 burning tracks keeps the focus on funky and traditional blues. The title of the CD, New York Blues, is somewhat deceiving as Yandall reveals himself as a master of regional blues styles stretching well beyond the Big Apple to places like Chicago, the Mississippi Delta, Texas and California.
As a guitarist Yandall is fierce, employing crunchy, overdriven lines with a fast attack and a vicious bite. He demonstrates a fairly wide palette of styles, echoing the legacy of Stevie Ray Vaughan ("Wrap it Up"), Larry Carlton ("New York Blues"), Buddy Guy ("Blues for Buddy") and Jeff Beck ("People Get Ready"). Yandall’s cover of the Allman Brothers classic "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed," a highlight of the disc, showcases the guitarist’s grasp of smooth Wes Montgomery style octaves, distorted wailing ala Carlos Santana and a soulful organ solo to boot.
Adding to his duties as sole performer on the session (guitar, bass, keyboards, programming and vocals), Yandall also serves as engineer and producer. This modern day one-man band maintains complete control over every aspect of his music. Yandall has the production chops to pull off such a feat, however, the absence of collaborative interplay, an essential component to the essence of the blues, can at times feel overly contrived.
New York Blues is an exciting, energetic release from a forward-thinking musician with soul to spare. Yandall’s guitar mastery will appeal to fans of hardcore blues and sophisticated pop rock.