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Album Review : Dan Patlansky – Movin’ On 

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Review by Taf Rock for MPM

South African blues hotshot guitarist Dan Patlansky released his eleventh studio album Movin’ On at the beginning of March. Produced by Dan and drummer Andy Maritz the album was recorded at Andy’s Drumheadz Studio in Johannesburg. Bassist Greg Van Kerkhof completing the three-strong team responsible for writing and performing all the material on the album with Jacques Gerhard de Villiers adding keyboards to several of the album’s ten tracks.

Dan has never hidden his love and admiration for Stevie Ray Vaughan – the Texan blues legend tragically lost at such a young age. A guitarist held in high esteem and acclaimed by many as one of the finest to ever play blues guitar (an opinion shared with yours truly). Our opening track Red Velvet Suit is a full-on tribute to Stevie Ray.

Whereas Stevie himself chose to cover Hendrix songs in order to pay tribute to his own guitar hero Dan performs an original composition and even names the track after Stevie’s chosen attire for his 1984 30th birthday Carnegie Hall gig which was recorded for posterity. At break neck speed Dan exhibits the trademark licks and chops of SRV atop an exuberant rhythm section. ‘Close my eyes hear his guitar sing’ it could almost be Stevie. Only the differing vocal style giving the game away. A fitting tribute and a ‘tip of the hat’ to Dan and many others guitar hero. Stevie will be smiling.

In complete contrast the subsequent track sees Dan on a journey of self-discovery as he tells us Who I Am. A terrific soul-searching angst-filled vocal performance to the fore here complimented by a driving rhythm section allowing Dan to express himself both vocally and with blistering guitar work. ‘Where have I been … tell me who I am… so I can get back home’ as he breaks Into an exquisite solo. 

Rightly proud of his talents as a world famous musician Dan often admits to being Humbled as he reflects on the ‘broken streets, broken hearts, shattered lives, buried hopes’ of those less fortunate than him.A pounding heavy riff the foundation here. Dan exhibiting Hendrix like tendencies as he lets the guitar take him away on several solo outbursts.

Dan recalls my ‘old man’s words’ in a beautiful tribute to his father – Movin’ On a phrase Dad often used to pick a young lad up from the depths of despair when he was going through difficult times. Andy Turrel guesting on pedal steel guitar provides a country like edge here. ‘Dust on the window, can’t see past the night, I reach for the bottle, my demons take flight’ – deep meaningful and reflective lyrics delivered in Dan’s unique, soulful and expressive vocal style. ‘Tears might fall, bones might crack… gotta carry on … looking for answers… searching for truth’ which he finds in his father’s words of advice as Dan ‘dusts off my window, stares down the night, puts down the bottle and watches the sun rise’. Andy and Greg join Dan in a triumphant choral refrain.

‘Born in the summer of 1981’ to play the blues, On My Way tells the story of Dan’s musical journey from ‘a bourgeois town’ as he dreams of worldwide recognition and ‘sold out shows’. Jacques De Villiers’ keyboards feature prominently on this blues shuffle. The Stevie Ray influence can be clearly heard once again not just in the music – Dan ‘saving his money for snakeskin boots’, a regular feature of the SRV attire.

Another reflective look on Dan’s past as One With Fire sees our guitar slinger taking back his identity from the ghosts of the past, the kind that ‘kick the ladder, leave you on the ground’. Dan’s guitar dreamily drifts in and out atop the solid tones of Greg Van Kerkhof’s bass before ‘bringing down the house’ with a glorious burst of explosive guitar. Quieter reflective moments of guitar incorporate neat work on the sticks from Andy Maritz. The track features a myriad of guitar styles as it ebbs and flows like a river meandering its way to the sea sometimes raging in torrents whilst at other times serenely drifting onwards. Magical stuff.

Dan’s got his eye on a lady. Baby’s Packin’ Heat is a slow blues full of cheeky compliments intended to impress his subject and turn her gaze his way. Once again leaning heavily on the Stevie Ray influences. Dan does this stuff so well so why not indulge. It’s truly a pleasure to hear an international artist performing this kind of blues to such a high standard once again whilst tipping the hat to a fallen genius from the past. If the compliments don’t work Dan I’m sure the guitar work will leave the lady breathless. 

Love song Welcome In sees the return of Andy Turrel and his pedal steel guitar thus ushering in a reprise of the country-like sound heard previously during Movin’ On. Dan’s emotionally saturated vocal style on this and similar tracks a sheer joy to behold. ‘Turn left when you hit my heart… mind the gap tween my heart and the platform … brace for the impact’, the message is clearly delivered within the exquisite lyrics – Dan is letting someone into his life. 

De Villiers superlative keyboard skillsfeatureprominently throughout Free Wheelin’ – a lyrically rich tale of a dishonest flirt who ‘don’t need no money … just a rich man’s wife’. The track highlights the togetherness of the band as a whole and features a neat exchange of bass and guitar solos at its midpoint. 

The album draws to a close with an instrumental Lift Off – a track that Dan often uses to announce his arrival onstage during his live set. Fast paced, explosive, blues driven and of course full of Stevie Ray influences we finish in the manner with which we opened our album.

Even though the album is loaded with Stevie Ray influenced material it would be extremely short-sighted to think that’s all there is to Dan Patlansky. There’s plenty of times during which Dan moves away from the well trodden path he is so adept at on this album. Be it the occasional dabble in Nashville-like sounds or the lyrically and vocally rich works of self discovery contained in the grooves of this album, a release which cements Dan Patlansky’s reputation as both a versatile international musician and gifted songwriter deservedly held in high regard by music fans the world over.

‘Say it louder … in case you haven’t heard’ Dan Patlansky is here to enjoy himself, playing songs and music he has a passion and enthusiasm for. He would love to share them with you so be sure to catch Dan live here in the UK as he performs eight dates commencing 5th April at Manchester’s Deaf Institute. The tour finishes 16th April at The 1865 in Southampton.

Dan Patlansky by Tobias Coetsee.

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