Every so often, some blues barnburner comes along who, at a young age, just blows the stage up. Jonny Lang was one, Kenny Wayne Shepherd was another, and of course Jeff Healey remains a lamp burning well past midnight in that regard. Now you can add Austin Young to the list. From the very first track, the aptly cognomened "Thunderhead", this 17-year old rips up the solo sections like there's no tomorrow, blending the sadly missed Healey with the recently late Alvin Lee and Gary Moore (and, hey, can't someone talk to the godthing and get Him to grant more years to artists? What the hell???) in a sound that's relentless, gritty from the word "Go!", and zestful as a full-serve beer garden in the middle of the Sahara.
This very talented teenaged wunderkind has a good singing voice too, neither over the top nor understated but 100% populist, committed, the kind of kid next door you're first minded to yell at, telling him to turn it down, until you realize he's tearing out some really fine stuff and thus saunter over to sit down and groove. If that weren't enough, he wrote and co-wrote every cut here. How is it some people are born with so much more than the rest of us? Good thing that's so, though, or we'd all be Republicans. Count your blessings that artists save our dour rear ends. Then the track Signal demonstrates why, when he was even younger, Austin was invited to the SRV Remembrance Concert in Arlington, Texas, but it also blends in some distinctively European rock strains. The solo spots are pure Stevie Ray but the song itself is dominantly Germano-European, bringing back memories of early Epitaph and other combos.
Things ease up in the ballads, and the sparkling Springtime Snow is a great example of Young's touch in restraint. Great shuffle beat, marvelous backgrounded guitar lines, warm backing vocals, plaintive leads, xlnt keyboards from Tom Tapec (who appears elsewhere in the CD and should be inducted into the band), everything mellifluous and flowing. As is sometimes the case in fledgling prodigies, there's a dad somewhere in the mix and, sure enough, Tim Young, Austin's sire and undoubtedly a prime reason he's gotten where he has, plays drums beside Noah Mast's liquid bass work in this trio. There's a sure-fire future standard in the mix as well: the 7-minute One Good Reason blow out, pure through and through Chicago blues by way of Memphis and London. When I first heard it, I thought "Yeah, I know that tune, but I can't remember who wrote it." Picking up the liner, I discovered it was Young's own and realized just how centered in the tradition this guy really is. So what're ya awaiting for? Turn off the friggin' TV, throw the radio out the window (that ceaselessly repeating cycle of Pink Floyd, Tom Petty, and Bruce Springsteen's gettin' kinda old, isn't it?), and catch some down 'n dirty across-the-tracks class instead. The mainstream hasn't done jack for anyone in the last three decades, the indies are the new utopia, and if you think that means everyone's going to have to get as puzzlingly chameleonic as The Flaming Lips, then Blue as can Be is going to change your mind awfully damn quickly.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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