Born in Manchester, England, in 1977, British singer/guitarist Matt Schofield was not around during the British blues-rock explosion of the '60s (as in Cream, Ten Years After, and the Yardbirds). Schofield isn't old enough to remember when Eric Clapton was with Cream, and he was only three when Led Zeppelin broke up in 1980. But thanks to recordings, he has been able to absorb many of the great blues, rock, soul, and jazz artists who came from previous generations -- and this excellent CD demonstrates that the recordings of Schofield's predecessors have taught him well. Ear to the Ground, like his previous release, Siftin' Thru Ashes, is full of healthy influences ranging from Chess Records to British blues-rock to Robben Ford to Stevie Ray Vaughan. Schofield is blues-oriented, but he is far from a blues purist and does not try to hide his appreciation of rock, jazz, soul, and funk. In fact, one of the great things about Ear to the Ground is the way Schofield is able to draw on both the toughness of blues-rock and the sophistication of blues-jazz. Schofield packs a muscular blues-rock punch on "Heart Don't Need a Compass," "Troublemaker," and "Someone," but his jazz chops assert themselves pleasingly well on "Searchin' (Give Me a Sign)" and the instrumental "Move Along." And from a jazz standpoint, the fact that Schofield leads an organ trio on Ear to the Ground is a definite plus; the organ trio, after all, is a format that is synonymous with Hammond B-3 icons like Jimmy Smith, Jack McDuff, Jimmy McGriff, and Richard "Groove" Holmes. Those who enjoyed Siftin' Thru Ashes will be glad to know that Schofield is equally captivating on Ear to the Ground.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson
feat: "Big" Pete Van der Pluym