Fans of slide guitarist Eric Sardinas will be happy to hear that he’s limbered up his trusty Dobro for a fourth album, Eric Sardinas And Big Motor, just out on the the Favored Nations label. Last heard on 2003’s Black Pearls, Sardinas’ newest effort again showcases his signature brand of blues-tinged rock, and helps kick off his 2008 tour schedule.
Sardinas comes by his affection for the blues honestly. He grew up in the South, and even as a very young child found himself drawn to Delta blues and the music of Charley Patton, Elmore James, and Muddy Waters. That helped center him as he reached adulthood and relocated to the LA area, where he went through a period of searching for his musical identity, for a while even earning a living playing acoustic guitar in the streets.
In the early 1990’s he hooked up with bassist Paul Loranger and formed the Eric Sardinas Project (ESP), later adding drummer Scott Palacios. Over the next few years the group built its name by appearing anywhere and everywhere, eventually working into a regular spot as an opening act for Johnny Winter. It led to a recording contract and Sardinas’ successful debut album, Treat Me Right.
He’s joined on his newest by bassist Levell Price and drummer Patrick Caccia, but Sardinas is clearly the star here. His blazing guitar and raw, gritty vocals dominate every track and will appeal to many listeners, although it might be a tough sell for some. But whatever your feelings about Sardinas himself – and the fusion of blues and rock in general – it’s impossible to resist the energy and fire shown here.
It’s perfectly demonstrated by the first track on the album, “All I Need,” with its deceptively mild opening that leads into pure combustion. It’s one of his own compositions, which make up most of the album’s content, but the exceptions are notable so let’s talk about those first.
Sardinas shows his brass cojones by taking on the King, giving us his version of Presley’s classic “Burnin’ Love,” and I have to admit that his ‘hunka’ isn’t half bad. Less successful is his attempt at Tony Joe White’s “As The Crow Flies,” which starts as a nice little guitar riff but eventually give the feeling that the crow was losing his way and possibly dive-bombing the scarecrow.
But there’s lots to like about this album, and some of the best tracks are the pieces written by Sardinas. In addition to the opener, my favorites included the retro rock feel of “It’s Nothin’ New,” and “Gone To Memphis,” along with the searing instrumentals in “Wonderin’ Blues.”
Worth a listen.
1. All I Need
3. Find My Heart
4. Gone To Memphis
5. It’s Nothin’ New
6. This Time
7. Just Like That
8. Burning Love
9. Wonderin’ Blues
10. Door To Diamonds
11. As The Crow Flies