Mark May Band
" Release My Soul "
Blueswax rating 4
"Bob Putignano finds that the Brian May Band's latest release, "Release My Soul," lacks soul, despite Mark May's obvious talent." Chip Eagle for Blueswax & Blues Revue
Tough Sledding on a "Release" That Lacks "Soul"
This is the fifth disc from Mark May, the former guitarist and vocalist for Dickey Betts and Great Southern. Knowing this, and as expected (all but one tune clocks in at under than five minutes) it's mostly blues-rock with a couple of ballads, laced with (also as expected) twin-lead guitars, and smooth and soulful vocals. Now for the (not so good news) all eleven tracks were authored by May.
A slow and sultry blues groove ensues on "Six Strings or Two Legs," a goofy lyric tune with lots of jammy dual guitar interplay that hits in the pocket. A lame underlying, shifting shuffle prevails on "Move On," which doesn't. Things pickup on the more up-tempo "I Gotta Know," fueled with a horn section and an upbeat sax solo by Eric Demmer, and May wakes-up on guitar and unleashes a pretty strong solo, but the rhythm section mostly plods along. I just didn't get the loopy "Eyes of India," which is a kind of a spacey NRBQ tune that's lost its way. I'm having more hard times with the title track that makes me want to sell my soul, (and okay) please "Release My Soul." Sorry, but "World of Suffering" is appropriately titled. "Drifter" goes into an abyss for almost six minutes. The instrumental "Vindablues" strangely and readily shifts gears where the all-too-frequent downshifts are mostly in low gear and ill-conceived, and oh my God, I think I also hear a sitar! "Devils Playpen" has some torrid moments of jamming dual guitars, but not enough to save this entire recording. The end of this tunnel is coming near, yet "She Don't Shine" doesn't offer any glimmer, I feel like I'm in a Twilight Zone episode and there's no way out of here. Last track and it's the shortest tune, "Sweet D" ends in an instrumental and peaceful way; it's nice and, more importantly- it's over.
On a positive note, Mark May sings and plays well, but his band is suspect and does not offer assistance to potentially exhume any creativity. The main issue here is the songwriting and, until that improves - I would suggest that Mr. May should make a call to his old boss (Dickey Betts) to see if he has room to jam on with him playing Betts' greatest hits of long ago yesterday.