(5 / 5)
Dave Keller is a name I was not aware of until this very impressive album landed on my desk to review. The artwork on the CD cover fooled me into thinking this could be a rock and roll or rockabilly album: big American muscle car and cut-outs of four musicians, including two axe men, stood on top of it. Wrong!
It turns out that Vermont-based soul-blues man Dave Keller is a force to be reckoned with as a guitarist – and his vocals are of the same quality as his fretboard skills.
When the likes of legendary producer and multi-Grammy winner Jim Gaines – Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Steve Miller – says: “Dave has a remarkable voice”, you can bet your backside on how good the guy’s pipes are.
Dave cites such mentors and influences as Johnny Rawls, Ronnie Earl, Robert Ward and Mighty Sam McClain. He has hung out in the studio with Bobby “Blue” Bland, backed up Fontella Bass of “Rescue Me” fame and recorded with Al Green’s original Hi Rhythm Section. He keeps good company…
Dave Keller has received three BMA nominations (Blues Music Award) for ‘Best Soul Blues Album.’
He most definitely has soul in his vocals and marinated in his songwriting chops, all seemingly as innate as his incendiary and measured guitar skills. He doesn’t overplay and shred, and never screws up the groove or the feel, like many do. He serves the songs, always.
This 12-song album is a very pleasant surprise as to how good it is, and whets my appetite to dig into his 10 previous albums [Full discography can be seen at the bottom of the page] since his 1993 debut, “Deep Down In My Soul”.
In 2020 he dropped two: “You Get What You Give: Duets” – featuring Joe Louis Walker, Trudy Lynn, Dawn Tyler Watson, Johnny Rawls and more – and “Live At The Killer Guitar Thriller”, with a three year wait for this latest one.
As a guitarist I hear nods to the greats such as Roy Buchanan, Lonnie Mack, SRV, The Three Kings, Steve Cropper…But DK has his own sound too, for sure.
Dave takes on the producer’s role too. He is ably supported by an ‘A Team’ of players: Ira Friedman: keyboards, Jay Gleason: drums and percussion, Alex Budney: bass, Mark Earley: saxophone, Tom Palance: trumpet, Annika Chambers-DesLauriers: backing vocals. All songs by Dave Keller.
Dave says: “This past November, we gathered in our friend Laura’s cabin in the Adirondacks, ten miles south of Canada, not far from the town where Orville Gibson was born… Hundreds of geese had gathered on the pond by the cabin, and were quite chatty. It snowed. We ate meals together, played pool together, and recorded this album…”
“It’s Time To Shine” is an apt title; because he very much does, in the vocal and guitar playing departments. You could say, ‘No fillers, all killers.’ Killer Keller is a snug fit nickname for the man based on this outing.
Track nine’s title sums up the album nicely: “Full measure of pleasure”. Absolutely…
Review by Christopher Weston
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’
2020: You Get What You Give: Duets
2020: Live At The Killer Guitar Thriller
2018: Every Soul’s A Star
2016: Right Back Atcha
2013: Soul Changes
2011: Where I’m Coming From
2009: Play For Love
2002: Down At The Aloha
1993: Deep Down In My Soul