Todd Sharpville releases his new disc Porchlight, a twofer, following a rather impressive lineage, not just musically (having recorded with Mick Taylor, Snowy White, Dana Gillespie; appeared in concert with Van Morrison, Peter Green, Brian May; and the guy even beat out Gary Moore and Eric Clapton in a UK Best Guitarist poll!) but genetically as well, his real name being (The Hon.) Roland Augusto Jestyn Estanislao Philipps, younger son of 3rd Viscount St. Davids, and younger brother of 4th Viscount St. Davids, a titled member of one of the United Kingdom's oldest aristocratic families, a scion of royal lineage. While I won't agree with the Brit pollees re: comparisons to Clapton, Sharpville has an extremely fluid style and an almost daunting ease on the fretboard, knocking out tasty lines with bite and zest. And when B.B. King and Hubert Sumlin feel compelled to laud his royal rear end, then we're not talking about an up and comer but rather a member of the blues gentry…ironically enough.
Sharpville's likewise a savvy writer. Every cut but one here is his, the remaining track a great choice of a Shel Silverstein comp, and the entire menu is highly reminiscent of mid-period Savoy Brown cut with Nighthawks, the Fabulous Thunderbirds (Kim Wilson guests a track), and a welter of prime-period ensembles amid the vibe and style of the era's trademark. In fact, in his vocals, though Sharpville's oft more boisterous, one can detect more than a few similarities to one of rock-blues' most underlauded singers, Chris Youlden (who should be in a Hall of Fame somewhere as far as I'm concerned). On the other hand, Todd's NYC style is interesting, a timbre that floats between way cool, lamentive, snotty, torn, and soulful. The gent tends to be a chameleon.
Duke Robillard produced and mixed the CD, so if you detect resemblances to the Stony Plain crowd, you're not mistaken. Robillard has a gift for bringing out the elder days (esp. the 50s) in everyone, and Porchlight possesses the distinctive air of a band that might've been around when Dion & the Belmonts were doo-wopping the streets, Sharpville resident in a dive around the back alley, playing his heart out for a post-beat pre-Brit-Invasion crowd of all skin colors and musical persuasions, even the bad-ass boogie boys (Can't Stand the Crook). Several selections pass the 7:00 mark and lavish the ear with cranked up wailing. Robillard and Joe Louis Walker sit in on a couple of tracks, but when Wilson gets smoking' on that sprinting hound dog harmonica of his, hoo boy!, that's when this guitarist also ratchets up to maximum and flies.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles