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05 December 2014

Blues in the Northwest Review (UK): ‘The Other Side’

Drew Nelson – The Other Side
(Self-release: DNCD06)

I must confess to knowing absolutely nothing about Canadian musician Drew Nelson, but on this, his first album in eight years, “The Other Side” he certainly captured my attention on this most enjoyable set of roots and blues . . . . produced by the excellent Steve Marriner, who also contributes his talents on harmonica, guitar, bass, keyboards and backing vocals! Also on board is Marriner’s colleague in the band MonkeyJunk, drummer Matt Sobb – with Drew Nelson on guitar and vocals.

The album catches fire from the off with a sparkling cover of Bob Dylan’s “Seven Days”, with Nelson’s gruff vocals not a million miles from the writer’s own style . . . it fairly rattles along with some riveting slide guitar; it’s followed by the equally uptempo composition “Make It Right”, with some telling harmonica and piano from Steve Marriner and more tasty slide guitar. The pace is taken down for a nice reading of Leonard Cohen’s “Bird On A Wire” . . . again tailor-made for Drew Nelson’s voice . . . and featuring some lovely pedal steel, from the appropriately named John Steele.

The ‘down in the alley’ blues of “One More Chance” sees more harmonica fireworks from producer Marriner, who really is a top player! The sparse “Valentine” is another change of direction, and again recalls classic Dylan, though penned by Nelson and Marriner, who provide some contrasting guitar work to the song. “Please Come Home” has an old-time, honky tonk feel to it, with nice acoustic harmonica and some lovely tinkling ivories!

The rip-roaring “Get It!” is a slide-driven romp at just 2:14, that dips into Elmore James territory, and must be an absolute killer live; it’s followed by the closing Nelson composition, the title cut, “The Other Side” is a reflective, gentle tune with cello from Ken Kanwisher, and Drew Nelson’s thoughtful lyrics and ‘lived in’ vocals.

This comes highly recommended – a nice mix of blues and roots – well done to all concerned! Another release from a current vibrant Canadian scene that is producing some fine music!


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