Saturday, May 11, 2024

Highlights of ‘Krissy Matthews and Friends’ are Plentiful

The British are no strangers to the blues, sprinkling a touch of psychedelia, rock and metal flavoring over the music in the 1960s and early 1970s before exporting it back to America. The shared love of the blues connecting these two countries has continued ever since with countless musicians keeping the genre’s history alive for each new generation. British-Norwegian guitarist Krissy Matthews is just the latest to do so from the European side of the pond.

Matthews became immersed in the blues at a young age. By age 12, he shared the stage with the legendary John Mayall for a few songs at the Notodden Blues Festival in Norway. He has since played with the likes of Gregg Allman, the Tedeschi Trucks Band, Joe Bonamassa, Joe Satriani, Jimmie Vaughan, Los Lobos, Chris Farlowe and Arthur Brown, and released several of his own studio albums, most recently Pizza Man Blues (2021) and Monster in Me (2019).

Now in his early thirties, Matthews is set to release his most ambitious album to date: a double album of 24 songs and almost three hours of music titled Krissy Matthews and Friends. The album is slated for May 10, 2024 via German label Ruf Records, and features an eclectic set of musicians ranging from the aforementioned Chris Farlowe and Arthur Brown to Clawfinger, a rap metal band from Sweden.

The album is by no means a straightforward blues album, but rather – as the appearance of Clawfinger may suggest – extends to a broad range of genres that have influenced Matthews over the years, including metal, jazz and rock. Regardless of the genre though, one thing comes through in every song – Matthews is a brilliant and virtuosic guitarist who is not limited by any particular stylings, easily capturing the emotional essence of a song from the tender to the explosive.

Highlights of the album are plentiful, beginning with “Queen,” the searing opening track and first single that was released on March 29th. The song, which features Kim Jennett on vocals, is a rocker that kicks open the door to the album.

Before the dust can settle, a rolling piano over Matthews’ electrifying guitar kickstarts “Ain’t Got No Troubles on the Road,” a rollicking number featuring Pete Brown, Chris Farlowe, and saxophonist Tommy Schneller. Matthews and Heidi Solheim then slow it down for “Why Are You Ashamed of Me?” – the second single from the album released on April 26th. It’s a beautiful number reminiscent of the grossly underrated “It’s Probably Me,” the early 1990s collaboration between Sting and Eric Clapton. The song, which is a smoldering attack at the Norwegian government’s refusal to grant Matthews a passport despite his Norwegian descent, gradually builds with intensity behind Matthews’ steamy and fiery guitar solos, before concluding with some alternating and passionate vocals from Matthews and Solheim.

Other highlights from the album include “Pack It Up,” a funky number featuring Big Daddy Wilson and Alice Armstrong, the Latin-tinged “Tomorrow’s Blues” (featuring Clem Clempson, Marlia Rae, Harry Waters, Alfred Mehnert, Anne Hauter and Detlef Blanke), the organ-driven R&B/soul number “Learn to Live with the Blues” (featuring Stevie Watts, Whitney Shay, Dani Wilde, Will Wilde, Jimmy Z, Phipu Blue Dog and Kai Strauss), Al Green’s “I’m a Ram” (featuring Jed Potts, Paul Jones, Phil Bee, Alex Lex and Paul Jobson), the killer instrumental track “SCIM Impro,” Blind Joe Reynolds’ “Outside Woman Blues” (featuring Rob Tognoni, Felix Dehmel and Josh Rigal) which was popularized by Cream in 1967 on the album Disraeli Gears, and “Mr. Brown’s Blues” (featuring Eric Steckel, Tommy Kristiansen, Amund Maarud, Siggi Schwarz and Terry Marshall), as well as two standout Germanic sung tracks: “Hvorfor Stenger Du For Meg,” featuring Heidi Solheim and “So Einfach Ist Das” featuring the Hamburg Blues Band and Stoppok.

Matthews is set to promote the album throughout Europe, beginning with a variety of dates in the UK in May and June. For more information on his tour and Krissy Matthews and Friends, check out his website.

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