Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Todd Sharpville "Porchlight"

Todd Sharpville's new cd "Porchlight" is a compelling release--partly because of the musical quality of his guitar and vocals, partly because of who and what Todd Sharpville is. According to Wikipedia, "Sharpville (born The Hon. Roland Augusto Jestyn Estanislao Philipps, 9 April 1970, London) is the younger son of the 3rd Viscount St Davids and younger brother of 4th Viscount St Davids, is a British musician, singer-songwriter and lead guitarist, mainly in the blues field." He's British royalty, and he plays guitar, writes and sings.

I really don't care about the royalty angle--what interests me is the music, and Sharpville has been making records since 1994's "Touch Of Your Love" (Red Lightnin' Records), which won "Best Album" in 1994 in the British Blues Connection awards (Britain's equivalent to the W.C. Handy Awards). He won the British Blues Connection "Best UK Guitarist" award in 1995. His second album was 2001's "The Meaning Of Life" (Cathouse Records), and featured guests Leo Sayer, Eugene "Hideaway" Bridges, Snowy White, Paul Lamb, Keith Dunn, and ex-Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor. Sharpville also appeared on Leo Sayer's "Voice In My Head" (2005) and Albert Hammond's "Revolution Of The Heart" (2006).

As an antidote to the mention of Leo Sayer, let me point out that Sharpville's new blues double album "Porchlight" was produced by Duke Robillard and features guests: Duke Robillard, Joe Louis Walker, & Kim Wilson. The Todd Sharpville Band includes Mark Teixeira on drums, Jessie Williams on bass, Bruce Bears on keyboards and a fine horn section consisting of Scott Aruda on trumpet, Doug 'Mr. Low' James on baritone sax, Carl Ouerfurth on trombone, and Mike Tucker on alto sax. That cast of characters and guests make this a pretty good double cd. Todd Sharpville writes all 15 songs, and I really like the majority of them, as Sharpville gets into various styles of blues with fine results.

Things kick off with "If Love Is A Crime" which features good work by Sharpville and Kim Wilson. That is followed by "Lousy Husband (But A Real Good Dad)" which features good work by both Duke and Sharpville and especially Bruce Bears on piano. Next up is "Used," in which Sharpville gets to show his major guitar talents. Then "Why Does It Rain?" which features the horn section--this may be the best song on the record. Things wander astray a bit with the next two tracks, "Can't Stand The Crook" and "Everything Will Be Alright," but everything comes back into major focus with the next song "Old Feeling" which is 5 minutes of great music.

The second cd is similarly strong out of the box, with "When The World's Not Enough" which is fine rockabilly, and "When The Blues Come Calling," which reminds me of Eric Clapton in a good way, and then things droop with the dreadful "If That Ain't Love What Is?" and the leaden "Legacy of Greed." But then things pick up again with "Whole Lotta Lady" which features that fat baritone sax and that great Duke Robillard sound, and the next three songs "Misery" and "Busted In Pieces" and "Porchlight" are all highlights--all great guitar and band burning the house down. "Misery" or "Porchlight" are the most personal songs on the disc, and there Todd Sharpville makes his stand. This guy is really good, even if he is a Brit and royalty. Grab this set, give it a listen, and see what I mean.

This cd is on MiG (Made in Germany) Records. You can buy it at

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