(4 / 5)
A three-year labour of love for New York bluesman Dave Fields has most definitely paid off, based on the end result of his cracking sixth album, “Force Of Will”.
A very fine guitarist and vocals on-point too, on a decent bag of original material. If you dig the late Gary Moore’s guitar licks and voice, this guy will surely appeal.
The album was produced by Dave and he penned nine of the 10 cuts, co-writing “Chloe & Otis” with Vlad Barsky.
Dave is a New York Blues Hall Of Fame inductee, the son of NYC composer, arranger and producer Sammy “Forever” Fields.
Dave plays across the US and has toured the globe. He’s scooped a clutch of awards and has a decent Spotify audience. Blues legend John Mayall cut one of Dave’s songs, “Train To My Heart” on his “Tough” album. Three of Dave’s albums have topped the RMR blues chart.
“Force Of Will” has a classy line-up who all add value. Steve Morse band drummer Van Romaine and Rick Derringer band bassist Buddy Allen grace the opener, the blues rocker “I Love My Baby”.
Norwegian bluesmen Kare Amundsen on drums and Bjorn Hagset on bass play on track six, “It’s Not OK”. Dave pays tribute to NY music legend Delmar Brown on “Delmar”. The sole instrumental, “Jack Ham Her”, is a winner. A bit of Steve Vai, Eric Johnson and Carl Verheyen about it – Dave’s playing right up there in the quality stakes.
The track features exemplary work from Van Romaine on drums and Erik Boyd on bass. They lock together like musical Exocet missiles and really nail the groove. Like Noel and Mitch did for Hendrix.
Too many notes. Slow down. Where’s the soul? Where’s the feel? OK, so you can play at 100 MPH and 16 notes at once! Enough, already! That’s what I hear myself thinking many times when so-called blues guitarists release so-called blues albums, lately – going at it like a bull in a china shop. Little control and no light and shade.
Most of ’em are actually rock players releasing rock albums and calling it “the blues”, and about as adept at the blues as I am at knitting fog or juggling soot.
But not this guy. He leaves space, he lets the songs breath and doesn’t flood them with over-blown solos and having to fill in every little gap with an axe attack. Refreshing to hear. It’s all about brush strokes, not chucking gallons of paint at the canvas. The blues is about the feel. It is all about what emotions sound like.
Robert “Kool” Bell of famed soul band Kool and the Gang says “Force of Will” demonstrates Dave’s vocal and song writing talent. Nice compliment, but boy does that under state what Mr Field brings to the table in way of fretboard skills and control.
I am not a guitar nerd and I do not play that instrument, so I usually swerve getting into mentions of “tone” and “gear” in my reviews. But it has to be said, the mix of tone and effects Dave uses across this record (and being an endorsee of Fodera guitars, his chosen axe here), gives him an edge. (He uses Red Plate amps, for all the gear heads reading this).
But you can have the best gear at your disposal, and a good producer, engineer and mastering expert can make you sound 100 times better than you actually sounded in the studio, with use of digital trickery. But I am told many times by top guitarists – including some legendary guys too – that “it’s all in the fingers”.
Blues guitar legend Hubert Sumlin, who played with such blues icons as Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon and Pinetop Perkins, said he knew David Field was “something special” the first time he heard him. “When Dave plays, he plays with such passion”. After hearing these 10 tracks on “Force of Will”, I unreservedly concur with Mr Sumlin.
The title track kicks ass (or arse if you are a Brit’ like me!) and Dave’s vocal sells the song. A rockin’ blues number which nods to Gary Moore. The guitar break will singe your eyebrows, like much of the guitar work across this superb discovery of an album. He can shred, but he can also pull back and understate as a player.
Nice to hear a modern-day guitar player in the blues genre not referencing Bonamassa, Clapton and Stevie Ray every other lick! I think Dave is more likely to channel the likes of Roy Buchanan, Lonnie Mack, Robben Ford, Neil Schon and a slew of more obscure jazz and blues players, than he is the guys many younger guitarists want to emulate today.
I have watched some of his live videos on YouTube since this album arrived and piqued my interest in the guy, and I was and am VERY impressed. Hope he comes over to the UK when all is back to normal and plays some gigs and/or festivals.
One of the best blues albums to hit my desk in 2020 thus far. One hell of a player and makes a change to have a voice that also carries weight. Triple threat as a guitar slinger of enormous talent, a solid singer and a skilled song writer. A force of will, indeed….
By Simon Redley
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’