Aynsley Lister is being hailed, with this fifth release, for his hard rock / blues sound, but, frankly, he should be more lauded for the balladic qualities of his work, as the best cuts here are either the softer tracks or those sprinkling themselves between the two camps. Upside Down, however, on whole, has quite a few moments, not the least of which is the burning With Me Tonight, in which he shows all erstwhile hopefuls—Eric Gales, Jon Butcher, Uli Jon Roth, etc.—how it should be done…followed by the folky acoustic Rain, a pensive song pulling the listener back down from the clouds.
Lister prefers a power trio approach, with Jo Nichols on bass and Alex Thomas on drums, in order to get the most from a sound rooted in rock, folk, and blues basics, an uncluttered groundwork allowing the rolling thunder better egress as the airier elements have their contrastive way. In the Morning conflates a number of hard-charging influences: Chuck Berry, Kim Simmonds, a bit of Hendrix, and more than a little of the latter-day Mick Abrahams. There's plenty of crunch all around, actually, with a goodly percentage of the more primal Stevie Ray and Jeff Healey for added spice.
Lister's a young cat still figuring out exactly what his voice is, and the success of his short history speaks for itself (including a live gig in CD and DVD formats) amid a spate of solid chops and engaging songs, but he's not yet as distinctive as that still-forming background indicates he'll eventually be, and perhaps soon. Upside Down is satisfying, it'll keep the hard-rock churning boogie crowd happy, and is pretty much hard to find fault with, but there's still that conviction that we're watching this guy in the process of creating himself.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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