Eric Gales — Crown (Provogue)

It’s not in Eric Gales’ nature to be toe-curlingly cocksure.

There’s never been any jarring sense of superiority where the Memphis-born singer songwriter is concerned.

In fact, the blue(s) collar approach to a craft he loves has won respect and admiration for decades.

Gales doesn’t do airs and graces.

He doesn’t demand recognition or crave acclaim.

Entitlement is anathema where Eric’s concerned.

And that’s why the canny juxtaposition of Crown’s perceived self-confidence and Gales’ true personality works a treat.

From the glossy hip-hop style cover to the battle cry song title I Want My Crown, this record looks for all the world like the work of a dyed-in-the-wool diva.

From the outside looking in it screams self-aggrandisement on a sickeningly wide scale.

But appearances can be deceptive.

And Crown is almost too clever for its own good. Damn, it’s good.

If you’re new to Gales (and even we’re not late to that particular party) don’t be fooled.

Beneath the surface there’s that trademark authenticity, vulnerability and seamless social commentary synonymous with this master musician.

There’s the ethereal fretwork and remarkable vocal variation: that Gales’ tone can switch from visceral to velvety at the drop of a hat (or, in this case, a crown) makes for a truly memorable listening experience.

And then there’s a new producer in the shape of Mr J Bonamassa.

Joe Bonamassa Crowns blues buddy

Joe Bonamassa and Eric Gales go back years. And years. And even a little bit longer than that.

In the early 1990s Bonamassa and Gales were seen as standard bearers for the new blues generation.

Both delivered on their red hot potential and both stayed true to the genre’s finest traditions.

But if the former went on to become an arena headliner and the face of modern blues, then the latter took a path less acclaimed.

Those in the know argue there’s still nothing to choose between Bonamassa and Gales.

Bar a few millions record sales.

And Bonamassa saw Crown as a platform to bring the rest of the world up to speed.

His attention to detail and appreciation of the talent behind the glass enabled Gales’ long-time friend to capture a career-defining moment.

In conjunction with co-producer Josh Smith, perfectionist Bonamassa has brought out the best in an undisputed king of the blues.

They called the record Crown

But it should be called Crowning Glory.

Blues fan? Crown‘s the perfect fit

Dig into the songs and Crown’s full of anger, reflection, sympathy and frustration.

It’s a set that pays homage to the blues but knows how to rock.

Three joyous instrumentals punctuate the 16-track long player.

And there’s a new twist or turn around every corner.

Irony sears I Want My Crown — the one track here to feature a blast of Bonamassa.

On Survivor an almost incandescent Gales rails against the post-Floyd narrative as he snaps ‘don’t tell me it’s not about race’.

But the meandering six minute-plus I Found Her (replete with an intro/outro straight from a Parisienne café bar) delights in its true tenderness.

Enjoying his new-found confidence, Gales issues the cheeky challenge You Don’t Know The Blues.

And maybe we don’t. At least not like Eric.

You see, this incomparable talent has the genre down pat.

And Crown is head and shoulders above the opposition.

Gales has blown us away many, many times.

But with buddy Bonamassa publicly fighting his corner, that long-awaited storm of widespread acclaim is surely incoming.