21ST CENTURY BLUES
TEXAS 51 RECORDS
STRANGE GIRL–DRIVE BY LOVER–GOLDDIGGER–JUST WALK AWAY–THERE’S A SIN IN THERE SOMEWHERE–21ST CENTURY BLUES–WHO’S FOOLIN’ WHO–SHE MAKES ME CRAZY–IF I WAS A RICH MAN–CAN’T STOP THINKIN’–LIVIN’ ON BORROWED TIME–MIDNIGHT CROSSING
Van Wilks is pretty much an Austin, TX, guitar legend. He’s won multiple awards in that neck of the woods for both his acoustic and electric string-bending prowess, and goes all in with his first album in ten years, “21ST Century Blues,” on the Texas 51 label. It’s twelve shots of blistering blues-rock that allows Van to honor his deep respect for the American masters, with the common thread tying it all together being his killer chops.
Van warns us about several types of females to watch out for throughout the album. First up is the staccato bursts of fiery fretwork that accompany that “Strange Girl,” who’ll “leave you tongue-tied and talking to yourself,” because, as for her, “words always get in the way!” There’s a bit of a Double Trouble vibe running thru “Golddigger,” too—“she’ll turn your dollars back into dimes!” It features some fine slide at the bridge, too. “Who’s Foolin’ Who” is a slashy splash of funk, with Van telling his cheatin’ lover that “I’ve been foolin’ around, too!” And, the tale of the one that you just can’t live without, “She Makes Me Crazy,” has guest vocals from Malford Milligan, and guest guitar from the song’s composer, Christopher Cross.
We had two favorites, too. Van’s tribute to Leadbelly begins with the scratchy sound of a 78 RPM record being played, with Van using his vintage National Duolian Dobro to get just the right feel on :There’s A Sin In There Somewhere,” with the song blasting off into the stratosphere after the intro. Billy Gibbons and Van co-wrote our other favorite, a song that appeared on ZZ Top’s “La Futura” album. It’s a squankin’ blues-rocker about a “Drive By Lover” who’s so fine, she’ll make you “turn around and drive by again!”
Van Wilks states that the guitar’s the thing for him, and that it’s a natural extension of his soul, and those points are inarguable. He’s got that sho’ nuff, low down, wound up, rockin’ Texas blues on full display with “21ST Century Blues!” Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.