Like most Canadian bluesmen, Cliff Stevens started out as a sideman and session player, honing his skills and paying his dues.

Beyond that, I believe his life has been a musical journey of discovery, constantly watching, listening and learning from all those people he worked with, along with the influences of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton and Johnny Winter.

Fiercely independent, Cliff writes, plays, sings and produces his own albums, including Better Days, which is his fifth solo release.

A statement on the changes Cliff went through during the COVID lockdown, the beauty of this album is the diversity, each song represents an influence, a stop along the way on Cliff’s journey of personal and musical discovery, especially in the last two years.

Written and recorded during the COVID 19 pandemic, the title refers to the feeling of coming out the other end, changed, but stronger for the experience.

The album opens with the title track, a rocking Texas groove that channels SRV, with a rock solid rhythm section consisting of Serge Dionne (bass) and Sam Harrisson (drums), with brilliantly subtle keys from Eric Sauve. A perfect opener, it gets the toes tapping and the heart pumping.

Up next is ‘Passion’, the only co-write on the album, featuring the harp skills of Pat Loiselle. It also features co-writer Kim Feeney on vocals in this quirky little duet.

The third cut on the album is ‘No Room Left”, with fabulous piano from Eric Sauve, and a cool underlying rhythm. A song about a musician making the choice between his woman and another guitar, as based on a relationship Cliff was in at the time.

Up next is the song, that for me, is the start piece of this album. ‘I Believe’ is a powerful statement about faith in basic freedom, the potential to improve and the desire to create a better world. We live in troubled and cynical times. This message of belief is over due and badly needed.

The fifth cut, ‘Hear You Knocking’ is a groovy cut with a definite Peter Green influence, the second relationship related cut on the album. In this cut you can hear the lingering pain generated by that relationship going wrong.

The next cut was also generated from that infamous relationship. ‘Time for Me To Go’ is an up tempo shuffle haunted by the ghost of Freddie King. It about the realization that the connection is no longer strong enough to hold him down, and it is time for it to end.

The seventh cut is a song Cliff wrote shortly after his brother passed. Writing ‘Light of an Angel’ was a way of dealing with the tragedy, while paying a loving tribute to his brother and creating a beautiful and lasting memorial to him.

Up next is ‘I Love You Still’, which stands out from the 5 relationship gone wrong cuts on the album. A sweet and soulful blues and an homage to the great Freddie King.

Although the ninth cut is a definite Cliff Stevens original, it has a Tommy Castro feel and a fabulous piano groove. There is no deeper or dangerous minefield than “True Love”

Up next is “You Hurt Me’, the 4th cut of the 5 based on a bad relationship. A heart wrenching blues that explores just how beautiful and dangerous a person can be. In the right circumstances, just how hurtful as well.

The eleventh cut on the album is also the last one inspired by that relationship gone wrong. A brilliant slow blues, every word rings true, every note expresses the pain of being cheated on and left drowning in the wake of another’s betrayal.

The final cut on the album is a cool country blues instrumental with a catchy hook, in the style of the legendary Chet Atkins. A sweet way to end a fabulous record.

There is a lot of emotion in this record. Hope, Love, Betrayal and Hurt, all beautifully interpreted by a master musician at the pinnacle of his craft.  (Terry Parsons)