Kirk Fletcher review…October 18, 2018…..





Kirk “Eli” Fletcher is one of the most gifted and talented blues guitarists on the planet.  We’ve been fans of his since the good ol’ days around the turn of the century, when he, Junior Watson, Finis Tasby, Randy Chortkoff, and all those connected with Delta Groove and The Mannish Boys would descend upon Memphis during Blues Awards Week.  Kirk also served as lead guitarist for Kim Wilson’s Fabulous Thunderbirds, and also worked on Joe Bonamassa’s two most recent live projects.  He’s still found time to release his fifth album as a solo artist, a powerful statement of contemporary blues entitled “Hold On.”  It not only is full of the blues guitar for which he is known the world over, but also includes forays into jazzy, soul-centric blues as well.  His vocals reminded us of another legend perhaps better-known in the Southeast, Excello artist the late Earl Gaines, with just the right amount of grit.

This set was laid down at Canyon Sound in Bristol, England, and features Matt Brown on drums, and Johnny Henderson on keys.  Right outta the gate, Kirk delivers a slashing ode to times to which we can all relate, taking “Two Steps Forward, and ten steps back.”  He’s joined by fiery female vocalist Mahalia Barnes on the duet vocals, and busts out a wah-wah break that’d make John Shaft proud!  He pleads to a lover to “try before we give up,”  on the breezy funk of “You Need Me,” while his penchant for deeply-emotional slow-blues shows up in “The Answer,” and “Time’s Ticking,” the latter driven by Matt’s marching-band percussion.  He closes the set with an anthem for love, peace, and unity, and features Jade McCrea on duet vocals, “Hold On.”

We had two favorites, too.  “Sad Sad Day” rides a Mardi Gras groove over Kirk’s vocal story of the lover who, “the harder I try, little girl, the further you run away!”  And, “Gotta Right” is one of the reasons Kirk has been a four-time BMA nominee, this one with stinging leads and Kirk’s plaintive confession that he was “born to lose.”

With “Hold On,” Kirk Fletcher desired to create an album borne out of love and humanity, and to offer hope to a troubled society.  This one definitely hits the mark!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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