Monday, July 13, 2020

Dave Fields: “Force Of Will” (2020) CD Review

Dave Fields is a blues rock musician and songwriter based in New York. On his new album, Force Of Will, he offers all original material that he wrote, and plays the majority of the instruments as well, including guitar, bass, keyboards, drums. Though it sounds like he requires no help at all, he does have other musicians join him on various tracks. The music here is lively, with an undeniable energy.

Force Of Will opens with a good, pulsing blues rock number titled “I Love My Baby.” As its title indicates, this song is a declaration of love for the woman he’s seeing. He tells us, “I love my baby all the time/‘Cause she’s the one who’s always on my mind/I love my baby, forever true/No one else will ever, ever do.” Sure, the lyrics aren’t anything special, but this is really about the beat, about the drive, about the energy. Bill Ferns joins Dave Fields on harmonica, delivering some great stuff. This track also features some good work on electric guitar. That’s followed by “Big Block.” This one comes on fast and strong, a hard rocking blues number with a driving beat that will soon take over your body. You can almost hear how rock emerged from the blues in this very track. The beat and that guitar are in charge here. There are some lyrics, but just a couple of lines, nothing to get in the way of this jam that charges ahead like a fierce beast bent on having a good time. Buddy Allen is on bass, and Van Romaine is on drums. The ending might be stretched a bit longer than necessary, but no matter.

“Hunger” has a steady beat, a strong pulse. And as Dave Fields sings, “Feel my hunger, oh, feel my hunger,” we can feel it, we can hear it. Is it some sort of euphemism when he sings “There’s nothing else I’d rather do/Have lunch, dinner, then breakfast with you”? It seems like it, but hell, maybe the guy is just really hungry. And who enjoys braving the grocery stores these days? We look at every person there like he or she is a danger. Anyway, that beat plays such a prominent role in this song, and in the second half that beat becomes a bit more complex, and things for me get even better at that point. I love those drums, though of course it is that guitar that is more expressive. Buddy Allen is on bass, and Lee Jeffryes is on drums for this one. That’s followed by “Why Can’t You Treat Me Right,” which has more of a classic blues rhythm, pulling me in right from the start, plus some nice work on guitar over it. This song asks one of those perennial blues questions, “Why can’t you ever treat me right?” Yet at the beginning, there is almost a threat in Dave’s voice as he says, “I’m not going to tell you again/You’ve really gone too far this time.” He may be asking her why she is so mean, but at the same time it sounds like he’s not going to take any shit. This track employs some violent imagery, like “shotgun in my face” and “in my face you slam the door.” Then it’s sort of funny when he announces, “Now I’m gonna play my guitar” before that lead section. But maybe that’s what calms him down, maybe that’s the best thing he can do in this situation. Bjørn Hagset is on bass, and Kare Amundsen is on drums. Then we get the album’s title track, “Force Of Will.” “When I’m on the verge of quittin’ there’s a voice inside/Keeps telling me go forward, don’t you run and hide/But I keep going on, by the force of will.” Yeah, sometimes that’s all we have to keep us going, a force of will. Buddy Allen plays bass, and Kenny Soule plays drums on this track.

“It’s Not OK” features another wonderful groove, and addresses a troubled relationship. “Just keep it up, girl/And one day you’re going to be sorry and alone/No, it’s not okay/To look at me that way/Well, it’s not okay/To say the things you say.” He’s telling her she has to do better if she wants his love. But is it worth it for him to stick with her, in the hope that she’ll do as he asks? Do people really change? I don’t know, but I do know that this track features some pretty damn good work on electric guitar. It also includes another violent image, “Well, you wield your love/Like a loaded gun.” Vlad Barsky is on organ, Bjørn Hagset is on bass, and Kare Amundsen is on drums. Things then get funky with “Chloe & Otis,” an unusual number that is about dogs, but also about people of different shades and backgrounds and orientations getting along. And it’s a fun track. Vlad Barsky is on keys, Buddy Allen is bass, and Kenny Soule is on drums. “Doesn’t matter if you’re blue, green, purple, pink or brown/Love’s rainbow makes the world go ‘round.”

“Delmar” is an electric guitar solo like the kind we used to expect on a Van Halen album. I haven’t heard anything quite like this in a while. It’s fairly short, less than two minutes, but good. And it’s followed by another instrumental track, “Jack Ham Her,” this one a kind of cool blues rock jam, with that electric guitar rising up again to take focus. Erik Boyd is on bass, and Van Romaine is on drums. The album then concludes with “Best I Can,” a blues rock love song in which Dave Fields sings, “I’m going to love you, love you the best I can.” Ah, what more can we ask of someone? This song has a delicious rhythm. Kenny Soule plays drums on this track. “I’m going to love you from your head down to your toes/I’m going to love you, love you the best I can.”

CD Track List
  1. I Love My Baby
  2. Big Block
  3. Hunger
  4. Why Can’t You Treat Me Right
  5. Force Of Will
  6. It’s Not OK
  7. Chloe & Otis
  8. Delmar
  9. Jack Ham Her
  10. Best I Can
Force Of Will was released on July 3, 2020.

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