‘Tearing Up The Blues (& Its Feelings From The Heart)' EP by Kev StanleyReview
It's not that difficult really to envisage some of the issues which specialist drummers face in putting together solo records. It's therefore most commendable when that happens. One recent example being Matt Rheeston's "Do The Work" single as ‘Riizbo' (you can find it on ‘Hot Music Live Presents Volume Nine' as well). Hopefully too you'll remember the praise I poured upon Kev Stanley's ‘Smooth Groove' EP back in May of 2020 & so pleased was he with the general response to that solo debut that he's been working on a new one.
He could easily have opted for something along the same lines, a sort of ‘Smooth Groove Part Two', but equally to his credit, he hasn't diluted the impact of that record by producing more of the same: he's gone for a blues-centred approach with the imminent ‘Tearing Up The Blues (& Its Feelings From The Heart)' EP.
Even better, Kev has written two of the three component tracks himself, so it's no exercise in revamping the well known: even the sole cover version, "Steamroller Blues", though perhaps best known for the version by Elvis Presley, originates on James Taylor's ‘Sweet Baby James' album of 1970 as a dig at the inauthentic blues bands of the era he saw around him: so no retreading of any ‘standards' here.
In fact Kev has the confidence to bring his own take on blues playing to all three songs: there is absolutely no attempt to sound like what most blues players go for. The singing is low key, down beat & authentic in delivery. Not only does he nail down precisely what blues is supposed to be about (i.e. a range of emotions quite as much as, or even more than a precise technical playing style), but it comes across as more honest than any flashy guitar work could necessarily offer. In fact, not unsurprisingly, the subtlety of the playing lies within the percussion parts: which is not too far from how blues would have been originally performed in the folk context into which they were born.
The two originals are called "Bluest Blue" and "Hardest Blues" and Kev tells me that his writing was principally what he wanted to highlight in the EP & beyond that to offer something different from his previous release to show his breadth.
I have no doubt that this evidence shows this. Kev is not just a skilful writer, but a thoughtful one & one with the confidence to compose not just across a range of styles but not be a slave to their conventions & further more to create "proper songs" which convey what's in his heart & mind & not just exist as the fruits of an exercise in writing.
I think he's proved himself completely with this pair of EPs and he seems unsure whether he'll do another one. I hope he does, as he has not just got the capacity to create original music, but has an interesting & distinctive voice as a lyricist (I gather he writes a fair amount of what might be poetry or potential lyrics) and I'd be keen to see where he might go next.
These songs also deserve live outings, though I accept that doing so would take a fair amount of organisation: but it would, in my opinion, be worth it.
I don't write reviews of the predictable or mundane: I'm afraid I can't. It's the original approaches which keep me going: records like this one.
Kev is currently working on the artwork etc & when that's complete, the EP will be available to stream, download or on a very limited hard copy edition at £5.