Eric Sardinas

Eric Sardinas and Big Motor

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AllMusic Review by

Playing sizzling slide guitar and dobro is only part of the equation. Writing good songs is the other, and that's where Eric Sardinas has come up short on his previous three releases. While the tunes on his fourth won't revolutionize the blues boogie genre where it seems he intends to reside for his career, they are better and more intricately arranged than in the past. The slashing slide shenanigans that get the shredder's pulses racing are slathered over the tracks as before, but there is greater emphasis on subtlety "this time" out. Credit guest keyboardist David Schulz and a pair of female backing singers for bringing a gospel feel to the music, also adding a touch of class that nicely balances the grinding groove. Surely nobody would confuse Sardinas' gritty voice for a soul singer, yet there is a newfound confidence to his approach that is certainly soulful. Tunes such as "Gone to Memphis" and "This Time" sport memorable choruses that are some of the guitarist's finest. Covers of the Elvis standard "Burning Love" and Tony Joe White by way of Rory Gallagher's "As the Crow Flies" don't add much to the originals but are far from embarrassments either. Stompers such as "Find My Heart" and "Just Like That" are reminiscent of the glory days of Southern rock, specifically Black Oak Arkansas, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Molly Hatchet, but with hotter, better delineated guitar. Sardinas moves into '70s hard rock territory with the Free/Bad Company influenced "Door to Diamonds" yet the arrangements are spacious enough to include his crunchy slide lines without sounding exaggerated. Those looking for a ballad to lighten the mood will need to search elsewhere because once Sardinas revs up his engine, there is no slowing down. Sturdy bass and drums from his Big Motor backing duo do their job and stay out of the way allowing the guitarist freedom to do his thing. Sardinas keeps the songs concise and tight, reins in the solos, and hugs the curves of this material with far more nuances than in the past. That makes this his finest effort yet and shows that he's a rugged blues-rocker with brains and brawn.

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