FAME Review: Skyla Burrell Band - Blues Scars
Skyla Burrell Band - Blues Scars

Blues Scars

Skyla Burrell Band

Greenbroke/Vizztone - VTSB22

Available from Amazon.com.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

I didn't at all expect the jazz element in Skyla Burrell's blues work. She rips open the CD with modern day Candy Givens-ish (Zephyr) vocal work and then plays a mean guitar atop, loaded down with backbone, balls (ovaries?), and street-dirty distortion, every note perfect and meaningful. Mark Tomlinson backs her up on rhythm guitar until he too gets down to cases and frets up some burning lead work, she always first out, he second. Not hard to see why they pair up so well: very close in vocabulary and style. Livin' for the Blues starts up raw, rough, slidey, and half-psychedelic, like something Mick Abrahams woulda cut post-Jethro Tull.

Shut You Down is a stomp, insistent and unhedging, Burrell's sassy lyrics warning off the idiots and bad boys, her lead guitar boring through walls and ceiling. A lot of the emphasis here is just as much on each song per se as on the brief illustrative asides, every segment having its say but giving way to the non-stop rhtyhmics. I could see the ensemble on tour with ZZ Top or Pat Travers, straight-out no-nonsense rock blues meant to get the audience on its feet and boogying or else hootin' 'n hollerin'. Ezell Jones Jr. keeps a rock steady beat on the drums, Michelle Lucas plying the bass (now replaced by Charlie Hilbert).

Fave cut? World Wide Blues. It has a driving tango base to it complicating the guitar lines and contrasting the vox, something Savoy Brown would've done way back in the day when the sterling Chris Youlden was singing for 'em, or that Rory Gallagher woulda placed in his early solo work, along with For the Last Time. 6 Mile Cemetary Road is another ear ringer, slowed up, St. James Infirmary-esque, a bit of High Flying Bird as well, somewhat eerie, slew-footed and serious with even touches of Adrian Gurvitz and Neil Merryweather once or twice popping up. Blues Scars, we can see, is a CD out of its time. Released in the 70s, it woulda been a prized piece along with Crow, Pure Food & Drug Act, Jeff Beck, and all the other gems that make sure my turntable never gets any rest, and I hope to hell Tomlinson sticks it out with Burrell 'cause the two intertwine classically.

Track List:

  • Blues Scars (Mark Tomlinson)
  • Bluesin' for Your Lovin' (Mark Tomlinson)
  • Trouble (Skyla Burrell)
  • Stuck in a Struggle (Mark Tomlinson)
  • Love Letter in Blue (Skyla Burrell)
  • Livin' for the Blues (Mark Tomlinson)
  • Shut You Down (Tomlinson / Burrell)
  • Life Storms (Skyla Burrell)
  • World Wider Blues (Mark Tomlinson)
  • Full Time Gambler (Mark Tomlinson)
  • Jace (Mark Tomlinson)
  • Juke Jointin' Tonight (Skyla Burrell)
  • 6 Mile Cemetary Road (Skyla Burrell)
  • 21st Century Blues (Mark Tomlinson)
  • Bad Business (Mark Tomlinson)

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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