In The Rock House Sessions, Sean Chambers continues his well-received climb to the top of the blues pile. Already loaded down with a boatload of awards, including Guitarist magazine's citation as among the top 50 blues guitarists of the last century, he opens Rock House with, after a deceptively ethereal intro, the calamitous World on Fire, alternating between hard-bitten lyrical passages and fiery instrumental exposition. The most noticeable element this time around is the intensity of performance—always there in his work, but somehow the guy managed to find an '11' on the dial.
Where World on Fire tosses fire through your speakers, Since I've been Down (my favorite cut) doubles up on the tempo and melts whatever was left of the P.A. down to slag, hitting a Rory Gallagher level of pure energy and irresistible force. Man, I had to pause the CD player for a moment to catch my breath and wipe copious perspiration from delighted brow. Rock House contains its balladry, as in Meant to Be, but it's the hurtling juggernauts that really pin your ears back, not to mention the funked-up selections, like Sean's version of the classic Come to Poppa, stripped down to boppin' essentials and lushed back up agin in the backing vocals.
As ever, Chambers favors either a gritty burn to his vocals, a lazy back-river drawl (Holding On), or else a slightly sassily restrained mode (the aforementioned Poppa), and his guitaristics are prime Chicago bluesrock placing him in company with all the dirty-white-blues greats: Webb, Gallagher, Simmonds, Lee, etc. Sure, he led the band behind the cherished Hubert Sumlin for 5 years, wherein he added to an already impressive style and regimen, but he had his own trade winds to follow and has done so since going solo, amid some on-fire sessioneers, here including Stevie Ray Vaughan's keyboard player, Reese Wynans. And I have to say I was particularly pleased to see someone finally cover the late great Alvin Lee and Ten Years After, as Sean's done with Choo Choo Mama. 'Bout damn time! Lee was extremely daunting in his prime, but where the hell has been the homage? Sean Chambers finally broke the quarantine.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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