I never really knew how much I needed to listen to the blues until I turned on to Duke Garwood’s new songs. I mean I knew I liked it, I just didn’t realise I needed it. The blues harness a kind of force over those meandering lonesome thoughts, those just-can’t-understand-why events in life. It’s cathartic and soothing music.
Duke Garwood name sounds like he should be a natural born blues singer, you know – with Muddy Waters, Blind Lemon Jefferson and all those twentieth century greats. But his background is actually quite different, and not all his music is the blues, there are just strands you can pull out from tracks like Coldblooded, which have soft harmonies, long notes and the electric guitar chords prominently leading the track. The lyrics include phrases like ‘Pull the trigger the puppet will dance your tune’ and as a listener, he invigorates the dirge-like drama of traditional blues music with slow addictive glamour.
At this Komedia gig, neatly packed onto the almost too small stage, the band and Garwood look like a distinguished bunch. Garwood has a distinctive style, he makes me want to get my brown velvet jacket out the back of the wardrobe. Despite some sound problems that he tries to get resolved, the vibe of the music soon takes over and the audience is attentive as the songs stretch out before us.
There feels like there are element of Tom Waits in the grizzle and tone of Garwood’s lyrical delivery. The tracks are American in tone and delivery. Iit might be because of the influence of film soundtracks over the years, but as the meditative, dapperly-dressed Londonder spills out the lyrics of Blue, I’m nostalgic for long highways and silver Buicks. His music is evocative of both place and time, not a dreary, mist-laden seaside city, but the warm sun-bleached American plains and there is a sense of the wanderer to his music. He also reminds me a little of the distinctly folk-influenced Bonnie Prince Billie.
The band are superb, this St Valentine’s is turned inside out with the Garwood’s slowed-down reflective voice, matched by cool chords, harmonies and percussion which guide the contemplative lyrics.
Duke Garwood’s album new album Garden of Ashes is out now and his European tour continues in Germany.