“If The Black Keys are the acceptable, mainstream face of blues, these guys deserve their time in the sun. Not that they see a lot of it in hometown Seattle, one of the wettest cities on the US West Coast but that’s a digression. You’re here for the music – and Gravelroad deliver in big, bottom-heavy shovel loads.
If the name’s familiar it may be because Gravelroad is the backing band for bluesman T-Model Ford, whose recent album on Alive made an impression around these parts, especially for its forays into psych jams. You’ll find the same touches here but if you’re into labels this is Deep Blues. Gravelroad have done the touring miles, on their own and with T-Model, and it shows. They fill the soundscape but leave spaces in the right places but more obviously play this shit with a huge degree of self assurance.
Lead track “Devil Eyes” nails it from the outset. Its simple chord progression and languid swing are smothered in muffled bullfrog vocals and a stinging guitar break-out. The sound’s imposing for a three piece. Bassist Jon Newman and guitarist Steven Zilloux split vocals (or abandon them on the quirky instro “Furry”.)
Delta blues influences to one side, “Caves” is the most overtly trippy song, a meandering and searing gaze into Owsley’s laboratory that floats along. “Leave Her Alone” locks into a groove and cuts out just as it threatens to go other places. “Let Me Hold You” is a restrained closer, its vocal way in the background.
Production tricks are non-existent. There’s a bit of reverb, a little echo, and that’s it. The band mixed it with master producer Jim Diamond of the Motor City.
There’s a certain audience “Psychedelta” will appeal to. It’s probably not the Black Keys listeners who think they started last week. Gravelroad eschews the melodic trimmings. This is music to be absorbed late at night, not passed off with a cursory listen.”
– The Barman