Duke Garwood- Garden of Ashes (Heavenly Recordings)

Genre – Blues rock

Duke Garwood, south London’s unlikely blues man was on a long journey of musical experimentation, before 2015’s Heavy Love catapulted him into the eyes of the world.

Garden of Ashes is the sixth studio release from Duke in a 20 year career, and after nailing his sound with Heavy Love, this album is a further step up. Not so much a slow burner, but definitely a grower.

Some will get this on first listen, while other will require a few, but this album is arguably the most wholesome and complete of his career, suggesting he is currently residing in his musical peak.

A self-proclaimed ‘angry man,’ Garwood has made a career of channelling his anger into his blues rock style, as he battles the torment and cruelty of the world. This battle takes on a personal focus, in a self-help style as he picks himself apart and brutally deplores the anguish of his soul in the most unusual, transient way.

This diffused anger comes across with a soft and delicate blues style in Move On Swiftly, with eclectic sounds and whispers so intimate, it feels like Garwood is talking directly to you and letting you in on a secret only you must know.

The beautiful thing about Duke Garwood’s music is the clarity and character. He’s lived a unique life and he’s got a story to tell. From being force fed tequila by a Mexican street gang to staring death in the face, he’s done it. And, it reflects in his music.

Starting the album with the gloomy Coldblooded, the storytelling style of this brilliant blues man starts taking shape, in a harmonised, slow number that speaks softly to listeners in a downbeat but upliftingly smoky haze of pure blues brilliance.

Sonny Boggie ups the pace slightly, with deeper, louder vocals replacing the whispers of the opener. Although more upbeat, there’s a darkness about this track as Garwood talks about ‘leaving this world for a better place,’ showing his the extents of his inner torments.

Although much of this album is shrouded in a haze of smoky blues, it really comes to life in Blue, where Garwood’s style becomes reminiscent of fellow blues men Sturghill Simpson and Hiss Golden Messenger, but in a much darker form.

Garden of Ashes is an album with exceptional balance. There’s a familiarity that shouldn’t be there, as no one out there sounds anything like this. Do not miss out on this one.

RUSHONROCK RATED – 9/10 Dangerously talented