Saturday, November 18, 2017

Blues Blast Magazine Album Review: Chaz DePaolo – Resolution Blues: An Acoustic Blues Journey


This CD review was originally published in the April 7, 2016 edition of Blues Blast Magazine. Be sure to check out the rest of the magazine at

Chaz DePaolo – Resolution Blues: An Acoustic Blues Journey

Smoke Tone Records

10 tracks / 34:04

Tri-state denizen Chaz DePaolo definitely has a great work ethic, and through his constant stream of gigs and tours he has developed a massive set of blues and rock guitar chops as well as a healthy stage presence as a killer frontman. His talent has earned him not only the respect of fans and music critics, but also with fellow musicians, and he has played with legendary cats including Buddy Miles, Little Milton, Kim Wilson, Jose Feliciano, David Maxwell, and Blue Lou Marini.

Chaz has released a handful of albums as well as a live concert DVD, and all of them are very good. His fifth release is Resolution Blues: An Acoustic Blues Journey, which was recorded on February 20th of last year (his mom’s 80th birthday, by the way) at Showplace Studios in Dover, New Jersey. DePaolo laid down the vocal and guitar tracks, and he was joined by members of his usual band, including Hank Kaneshige on bass, Cliff McComas on drums, and Rob Chaseman on the sax. Prestine Allen worked the piano on this one, and executive producer David Biondo brought his harp along with him from Colorado.

Resolution Blues includes ten songs, all originals that were written by Chaz, and most of the tracks were recorded in one take. There is a definite “Live show” vibe to the proceedings, and DePaolo converses a bit with the listeners and the band members as things move along. The first song in the queue is “A Love So Strong” and many listeners will be hearing this man on an acoustic guitar for the first time. This is a fundamental change as this time he has to rely mostly on his voice to lead the band, and the void left by his electric guitar is ably filled by Allen’s piano and Chaseman’s sax; these guys works together marvelously! The lack of heroic guitar solos also leads to shorter tracks, and in this set they all come in around three or four minutes long.

Chaz does get to stretch his legs a little on the title track, as he really digs into the guitar on “Resolution Blues,” a song of hope and change. Though it is a blues song at heart, Prestine’s piano improvisations give it a bit of a jazz vibe over the bouncing beat of Kaneshige’s earthy-sounding bass. DePaolo also tears up the guitar part on “I’m Not Angry Anymore” and you will hear that he has an amazing touch on the fretboard.

The listener gets a history lesson from “Gunther 414” which runs down Robert Johnson’s legendary recording session in room 414 at this storied San Antonio hotel, though I think Chaz might be a little off on the spelling. Biondo adds a very tasty harmonica part to this tune, as well as to one of the standout tracks on Resolution Blues, “Angel on My Shoulder.” This is a song DePaolo wrote in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, and it has such a positive vibe about getting right with the world that it is hard not to smile while listening it.

The set finishes up with “Share” and there is only Chaz and his guitar. There are no solos to be found here, just a driving vamp and the man’s soulful voice. This is a song about trying to be “honest with yourself and others,” a lesson we should all keep in mind, and a good message to end with.

DePaolo obviously put a lot of work into writing these songs, as they all have well thought out lyrics and they are very slick. On the first listen it may seem that there is not much variety in the sound, which is one of the dangers of going acoustic and recording the songs back-to-back. But after each listen I find new things that I have not heard before, and this complexity makes Resolution Blues some of Chaz’s finest work yet. Give it a listen for yourself, and head over to his website to check out his gig schedule as April is going to be a very busy month for him!

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