197

Bernard Allison: Across the Water

Ed Kopp By

Sign in to view read count
Guitarist-vocalist Bernard Allison has inherited his father's energetic stage presence as well as his large European fan base. (Like his legendary father the late Luther Allison, Bernard lives in France.) Allison follows up his acclaimed American debut Keepin' the Blues Alive (1997) with a slicker, more mainstream effort clearly targeted at a bigger audience.

Bernard's last album reflected his years of training at the feet of his dad, his former bandleader Koko Taylor, and his pals Stevie Ray Vaughan and Edgar Winter. This new one displays Bernard's love of diverse popular styles. Allison mixes original blues tunes here with rock, funk and pop-soul fare.

Across the Water is a well-played collection with tight grooves, nasty guitar work, and a full-throated female chorus on backup vocals. Unfortunately, many of the songs are instantly forgettable, and they seem too manufactured. Consequently, blues traditionalists will be disappointed.

Allison's talent manages to rise above the heavily varnished surfaced on a number of cuts. With his wah-wah-inflected playing on "Meet Me Halfway," his blues-metal crunching on "Across the Water," and his ripping slide work on "Change Your Way of Living," he shows considerable versatility on the electric frets. He's also blessed with a pliable voice that can embrace a love ballad ("Love is Free") or belt out a propulsive rocker ("I Just Came Back to Say Goodbye"). For my money, though, the best cuts here a couple of blues numbers: "I Wanna Get You Back," a swampy tune with a catchy chorus, and "I've Been Down," a deep blues workout with some scorching guitar lines and heartfelt lyrics.

My feelings about this one are similar to my feelings about most of George Benson's radio friendly jazz: it's pleasant enough music, but I feel the artist is capable of far more. Just as I wish George Benson would play more mainstream jazz, I wish Bernard Allison would just wail on some blues.

| Record Label: Tone Cool Records | Style: Blues


Shop

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Robben Ford Robben Ford
guitar
Joe Bonamassa Joe Bonamassa
guitar
Lucky Peterson Lucky Peterson
various
Freddie King Freddie King
guitar, electric
Duke Robillard Duke Robillard
guitar, electric
Tab Benoit Tab Benoit
guitar, electric
Jimmy Thackery Jimmy Thackery
guitar, electric
Deborah Coleman Deborah Coleman
guitar, electric
Guitar Shorty Guitar Shorty
guitar
Ronnie Earl Ronnie Earl
guitar, electric
Kenny Neal Kenny Neal
guitar, electric

More Articles

Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Zanshin" CD/LP/Track Review Zanshin
by Karl Ackermann
Published: September 3, 2016
Read "Nearness And You, Duets and Improvisations" CD/LP/Track Review Nearness And You, Duets and Improvisations
by Mark Corroto
Published: April 13, 2016
Read "In The Corner Of The Eye" CD/LP/Track Review In The Corner Of The Eye
by Glenn Astarita
Published: July 10, 2016
Read "Fellow Creatures" CD/LP/Track Review Fellow Creatures
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 25, 2016
Read "Love Song" CD/LP/Track Review Love Song
by Tyran Grillo
Published: September 19, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!