Emotional resonance is important in music. For some, it means absolutely nothing as they go purchase the latest single by ‘Corporate Rock Dud #35.’ For some, it is everything. If the music lacks any sort of emotional one-two punch,’ no highly manufactured and scientifically perfected pop hook will make up for it. One of my earliest musical explorations led me down the path of the blues-rockers. Steve Vai. Eric Johnston. Of course, the masterful Eric Clapton graced my collection, thanks to the head start my father gave me when he donated his Clapton double album and live record to me. But one of my first personal pursuits was in a simple little record called ‘Colma’ but a guitarist named Buckethead. This record had emotional punch, purpose, and LIFE in every guitar lick.
I feel a similar sort of emotional urgency with ‘Grant Lyle,’ the blues singer-songwriter from the upper wilds of Ontario Canada. ‘Grant Lyle’ speaks guitar. You can hear the guitar talking in ‘Trouble Blues.’ Listen hard enough and you can hear what it is saying. It’s in the heart.
Of course, this is no instrumental album. Grant Lyle recalls a Ronnie James Dio growl with the marbled eccentricity of Eddie Vedder, for what is a rarely aggressive but always enthralling voice. When Lyle is silent, which is often, he allows the guitar to sing for him. It is in these largely instrumental songs where the voice is at its most radiant. Lyle is a sensational guitarist, an instant throwback to the blues greats which have created a huge shadow for the later artists.
But Lyle is not deserving of being under anyone’s shadow. Lyle is still early in the game with releasing only his second full-length album ‘So There.’ But what bleeds through the tracks is an artist before his prime, one shaping up the guitar to speak fluent love and adoration and respect. You can hear, between every note, an artist brimming with expansive potential to allure a new generation of blues-rock fans.
‘So There’ is lengthy and demanding, but it is also a perfect album to bask in the sweetness of the guitar and the sounds it creates. Lyle is arguably a masterful guitar player, and an enchanting albeit stringly influenced singer. But with more refining, Lyle can learn to let the guitar breathe with even greater force, building a bridge between a great guitarist with a knack for a melody and a great guitarist with a knack for emotion. Grant Lyle is an artist to hope for and an artist to watch.