Album Review by Leslii Stevens
Doyle Bramhall II, or as I have always called him “Gypsy Boy,” has finally cut out some real time to lay down his 4th studio album. The album consists of 11 originals and 2 covers, one of which is Jimi Hendrix’s “Hear My Train A Comin’.” On this 13 track album Doyle has brought together a few very cool artists like Norah Jones, James Gadson and members of the “Dap Kings”. Together they have created journeys and stories to move one’s soul. With this album I feel he’s earned the nickname “Gypsy Boy.” You feel yourself transported to different lands hearing all of where Doyle has been, infusing so many different cultures together for you to hear and feel.
After spending much of the last decade or so playing guitar alongside Eric Clapton and co-producing with Clapton. Doyle put his musical career on pause to be producer for Sheryl Crow and Tedeschi Trucks Band. But on September 30th that button will no longer be paused, it’s hit play for everyone! I am very grateful that I was trusted with this album to get lost in. It’s a journey everyone should take. Keeping with the modern-day Texas soulful blues and rock vibe that Doyle has been known for in past albums, Rich Man brings the smoking magical vibes of India or Morocco, influences from faraway lands.
Every single song has its hook, so I never hit the pause button myself. Doyle’s vocals are the very best I have ever heard. His fiery guitar work is seamless, adding his own unique and sexy flavor to the entire album. I can’t think of one single track on this album that has not moved me one way or another. Feeling Jimi Hendrix’s cool groovy raw guitar sounds and blending them with a tad bit of The Beatles, Doyle has earned comparison to those great artists with Rich Man.
“[The opening song Mama Can’t Help You] is a call to recognize the consequences of your own behavior,” he says. “It’s a one-man game of the dozens. I’m trying to allow myself to be open and vulnerable in my music, and ‘Mama’ is personal reckoning.”
A great opening song, it grabs you with a R&B bluesy feeling and pulls you into this album and off on your journey…I believe this entire album is a personal reckoning.
“November” seems to be a lament about the pain of a lost love, and learning to love again. The sounds of the instruments are very smooth, allowing Doyle’s vocal to bend your ear to tell his story. Just the right amount of horns, and group backing vocals during the choruses bring it home.
“The Veil” is about a very witchy evil woman; an extremely sad chapter in this journey. A feeling of dark smoke is hovering all around the edges as this story closes in. Deep Scars are left behind…An end to a beginning…
“My People” is a very moving piece that brings you to another place in time where hope is found. The song incorporates and fuses many cultures musically and spirally. A very raw look into how we are all the same. This song has soul. Very powerful words rapped around some amazing guitar playing.
“New Faith” slows the journey down a bit, but still with a very powerful story to be told. Learning to let go and live with the new easy way of love. “Why can’t we see the love in everyone?” in the world we seem to be living in today this song brings a bit of “New Faith” and hope to me. We all just need to see the love in everyone. It’s just that easy.
“Keep you Dreamin” makes me weak in the knees. Oh, baby hold on tight this is one hell of a steamy sexy track. I needed a smoke after this one. A true love story. You sure do keep me dreaming Doyle. This one comes in and hits you like a freight train and has you floating among the butterflies by the end. You’ll keep me dreamin’ for sure!
“Hands Up” is one of my favorites on the album. The story is simple and very powerful. It’s about loving one another and just how short a time we have. “Everyone is everything”. Open up your mind and see we are the same, just counting down the days. This song featurs some of what Doyle is known for in his guitar playing. Playing his guitar strung upside down and left-handed, you can hear his unique sound.
“Rich Man” Is a bold and beautiful song about finding peace within what you have, being grateful for the simple ways of life, and seeing you’re not really alone on your path. To see the many gifts the universe has in store for you. Living in the moment and taking care of it. Be grateful for all the riches in life you have been given. We truly are all Rich Men every single day even in our lonely darkest times. Letting go of days past and moving forward, understanding you have everything you need, “love keeps me moving on…”
“Cries of Ages” is about fighting fears and not turning back. Time is wasted on fears. Change is coming. Just rise up. Stop waiting on time. We bleed so much. With truth and love down the way, it will be done. Together we will change history.
“Harmony” is a hauntingly beautiful love story. Two souls that can stop time is some pretty powerful magic. A love so deep and raw. Finding peace at an end while keeping all the good and finding harmony to go forward. Witnessing just how one’s soul and heart can become one. A pause in a moment in time to be just 2 souls helping each other on a journey. Learning to let go and knowing love is still there…I love this song!!!
“Saharan Crossing” is a very simple and beautiful rendition. A short trip to heaven is where we seem to find ourselves. A pause in words but most definitely not a pause in this album. Just another twist along this journey of inner peace, hope and new faith. With its far eastern harmonic minor sounds you can feel peace and harmony slowly wrapping around you soul your heart is opening up to new beginnings.
“The Samanas” is dark and moody featuring his voice both haunting and sweet at different times. Instrumentation takes a back seat on the start of this track, while we listen to Doyle tell the story. Not to leave us wanting, the band and Doyle finish out strong with a rockin’ close.
The cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Hear My Train A Coming” is in some ways appropriate for an album that sounds like where Jimi may be in 2016.
This is an album of finding peace, hope and joy in one’s path. About learning from our mistakes and letting go. Heart break and healing. Finding happiness in the simple things. It’s so raw it’ll make you take a pause from your own crazy path on life for a moment to listen, to really feel. To hopefully come away with a greater understanding that we as a human race can hurt deeply, wear our scars and heal from every wound. Still making room for forgiveness and love. Love is the answer to most issues. Love yourself, love your neighbors love one another. We are all the same in the end. Life is way too short.
Doyle’s Fall Tour 2016
- 12 Oct 2016 FTC Stage One, Fairfield, CT
- 13 Oct 2016 Infinity Hall, Norfolk, CT
- 14 Oct 2016 Daryl’s House, Pawling, NY
- 16 Oct 2016 The Bowery Ballroom, New York, NY
- 18 Oct 2016 Port City Music Hall, Portland, ME
- 19 Oct 2016 Bull Run, Shirley, MA
- 21 Oct 2016 Tupelo Music Hall, Londonderry, NH
- 22 Oct 2016 Knickerbocker Cafe, Westerly, RI
- 23 Oct 2016 Mexicali Live , Teaneck, NJ
- 25 Oct 2016 Willie’s Locally Known, Lexington, KY
- 27 Oct 2016 City Winery, Chicago, IL
- 01 Nov 2016 Rams Head On Stage, Annapolis, MD
- 02 Nov 2016 The Hamilton, Washington, DC
- 03 Nov 2016 Stone Pony, Asbury Park, NJ
- 04 Nov 2016 The Ardmore Music Hall, Ardmore, PA
- 10 Nov 2016 Scout Bar, Houston, TX
- 11 Nov 2016 The Parish, Austin, TX
- 12 Nov 2016 Granada Theater, Dallas, TX