- Philip played with Jeff Healey, Uncle Kracker, Melissa Etheridge! Fantastic playing on this album, this will become a classic. One of the most exciting new rock/ blues guitarist on the scene [!]
Guitar and vocal powerhouse Philip Sayce calls his new album Steamroller, and that’s absolutely perfect.
From the moment the title cut’s colossal riff kick-starts the disc until the wall of feedback that finishes the soaring instrumental “Aberystwyth” concludes the set list, Sayce’s fourth release for Provogue Records is a rock ‘n’ blues joyride — a heavyweight sonic and emotional juggernaut fueled by Sayce’s unstoppable talent.“This is the most unfiltered album I’ve done,” says the Toronto native. “The only goals were to be completely honest in every moment of writing and recording, so we could get all of the emotional intensity of these songs into the tracks.”
Mission accoplished. Steamroller draws on an era when rockers were larger than life and guitars sounded bigger than Godzilla — when bands wrote anthemic songs with hooks that rang out like the Hammer of the Gods. But there’s a modern energy and perspective at play in Sayce’s arrangements and lyrics, too, which keeps Steamroller from gathering even a spec of dust.
“The themes of this album are power, strength, belief, self-confidence, re-birth, inspiration and the dedication to break barriers,” Sayce declares. To backlight those themes with the crackling fires of conviction, Sayce and his band cut the disc live in Nashville’s Chatham County Sound studio with Grammy nominated producer Dave Cobb (Jamey Johnson, Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell) behind the board. The proof of Sayce’s musical faith is in the tracks. “Steamroller” and “The Bull” capture a raging lust for life. Both songs are guitar propelled sonic carnival rides that double as relentless hymns to the pursuit of dreams and goals.
In “The Bull,” Sayce’s high-wire vocal performance hurdles a hoof-pounding rhythm toward a solo that channels his six-string heroes Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jeff Healey, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton all at once, climaxing in a shuddering wave of dramatic wah-wah.
Sayce’s absolutely possessed performance of “Black Train” ups the ante within its incendiary guitar break, splattering a raw expressionist portrait of twisted desire in thirty-second notes all over the mix. Then there’s the witch’s tale “A Mystic” driven by brooding chords and decorated by Sayce’s ornate bends and trills. Add in his eerie, chanted vocal turn and the tune sounds like a great lost gem from the original Black Sabbath’s catalog. But Steamroller isn’t just a roller coaster of sound, sex and sinew. “Marigold” is a shimmering ballad inspired by Sayce’s wife — a story of strength found in true love with a vocal performance that’s pure nectar. The equally smitten “Beautiful” brims with funky vibes, channeling the heyday of Stevie Wonder in Sayce’s falsetto and the percolating, syncopated swing of New Orleans’ rhythm kings the Meters in its neo-classic soul architecture.The album’s finale “Aberystwyth,” named after the Welsh town of Sayce’s birth, is a stunning composite of his influences and his own six-string vocabulary. The song builds on a sweet melodic theme that evolves to a textbook display of virtuosity replete with singing vibrato, daredevil string-bends, high-speed picking and elegantly sustained notes that carry the composition’s heartfelt arc.
1. Steamroller 2. Stung by a woman3. Marigold4. Rhythm and Truth5. Black Train6. Beautiful7. Holding On8. A Mystic9. The Bull10. Aberstwyth