Electric guitar virtuoso Philip Sayce has come a long way since his apprenticeship with the Jeff Healey Band. Spirit Rising puts his mastery of the guitar and of the recording studio in the service of some very good songs. Most of them are on the rock side of the blues rock spectrum but he does include songs by Magic Sam, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Jeff Healey, all very important influences for him. Influence was the name of his last studio album in 2015 and since then there was a live album recorded at the late, lamented Silver Dollar Room (Scorched Earth). A single from Spirit Rising was the hard rocking “Black Roller Coming”, a black roller being a giant dust storm that he likens in a press release to the oncoming pandemic – the world will be a better place now that the dust storm has destroyed what was there before. “(I wanna believe that you’ll be mine) Once (again)” is an attractive original power ballad. “Give Me Time” was a home recording by Magic Sam released posthumously by Delmark in 1991. This more realized version of the lovely R&B melody is a keeper and was the second single from the album way back in March. His own (all with collaborators) “Oh My” also has a nice tune with keyboards and a chorus helping (as they do in many of the songs here) with ‘I want to thank you for being you’. Lightnin’ Hopkins recorded “Awful Dreams” for Fire Records in New York, it was on Mojo Hand, one of his finest albums. Sayce’s version captures the mood perfectly without going overboard on FX. When you’re in the Jeff Healey Band, you know all the songs. “One Foot in the Gravel” was a Healey original that never made it to an album and apparently was only played ten times live. Sayce remembered this rocker and we have his version of it now. As the Warner Music press release says, this album is full of ‘blazing fretwork’ from ‘one of the best electric guitarists on the planet’. The attractive web site is www.philipsayce.com. 

May 2020 - Dalannah Gail Bowen
May 2020 - Loose Blues News