This CD review was originally published in the October 4, 2012 edition of Blues Blast Magazine. Be sure to check out the rest of the magazine at thebluesblast.com
Lewis Hamilton and the Boogie Brothers – Empty Roads
10 tracks / 51:01
As a fan of blues rock guitar, listening to Empty Roads, the new Lewis Hamilton and the Boogie Brothers CD, is a real pleasure for me. This is the follow-up to their debut release, Gambling Machine, which was a tremendous effort and made me wonder what to expect from these guys next. Well, what they did next was follow the usual road to success in the music business: plenty of hard work and practice with endless gigs and then back to the studio. Their sophomore effort builds on everything they learned from their first album and moves the band along to the next level, as this is a very good album that provides plenty of variety.
Lewis Hamilton and the Boogie Brothers was formed in Scotland in 2010, and there is not a lot of personnel to become familiar with. The band consists of Lewis Hamilton on guitar and vocals, his father Nick Hamilton on bass, and Ian (Santa) Wallace on the drums. That is it: no horns, keyboards, harmonica, or backing choir. It is just a classic blues rock trio with a British feel, sort of like Rory Gallagher with Gerry McAvoy and Ted McKenna. Lewis takes total control of the musical content and is responsible for writing, recording, producing, mixing and mastering all of their songs.
First up on Empty Roads is “Walking Out Your Door,” which gives the listener a good feel for what to expect from the rest of the album. This is a rocking 12-bar blues song with strong guitar, a smooth bass line and a heavy kick drum and snare. Lewis’ voice has that raspy whiskey voice that everybody is looking for, but he still manages to sound youthful and energetic. This is a slickly-written track with nicely interspersed guitar solos and verses.
There is some neat slide guitar to jump start the next track, “Empty Roads,” which moves a little more towards the country music side of things but still maintains its blues roots (albeit with a harder edge). There is plenty of neat guitar work on this and Hamilton gets some healthy distortion out of his axe. This segues into “Drinking Game,” which proves that every true bluesman needs to have a signature drinking song with simple lyrics. This track is a bit slower and is a straight up blues song with thick layers of guitars and a solid backline.
“Tear Me to the Bone” shows that Lewis Hamilton and the Boogie Brothers has a funky side. Like all of the other tracks on the album, it is built around the guitar parts, and this one has fun lyrics with the familiar theme of a man done wrong by his woman. It is cool to finally hear some background vocals on this track, by the way. After this Lewis changes to a completely different gear, and gives us “Like a Burning Tree,” which is a slow delta blues track with just him and his slide guitar.
I am not going to give a blow-by-blow account of every song on the album, but there is a little something for everybody in here. Lewis arranged the CD so that it ends up with two neat instrumentals. “Granny Cool” is an awesome electric guitar jam that lets Santa show off his drum chops, and the elder Hamilton finally gets a chance to pop and slap on his bass. “The Stream” is something completely different, providing a tasteful and elegant acoustic outro for the album.
Empty Roads is ten solid tracks of first-class music that will make most any blues or rock fan happy. Lewis Hamilton and the Boogie Brothers have outdone themselves with this release, and have set the bar for even better things to come. Check it out!