21st Century Blues

Texas ’51

wilksVan Wilks’ first new studio album in 10 years is a solid set of blues-rock boasting some of the finest guitar tone ever put on wax, easily holding a candle to efforts by more-recognizable names such as Kenny Wayne Shepherd, the Fabulous Thunderbirds and Joe Bonamassa.

“21st Century Blues” — like many other releases these days by independent artists of integrity — was crowdfunded, a win-win arrangement for the Austin, Texas-based singer/songwriter/guitarist and his fans but also confirmation of his relevance.

The record’s wide range of blues-rock subgenres is served by its ever-changing lineup from track to track.

“I wanted to use different players that I felt fit the song,” Wilks told Good New Music by email. “I like to use different players to keep new energy coming into the songs.” 

“Drive By Lover” was co-written with sometimes collaborator Billy Gibbons. Originally recorded by ZZ Top as a bonus track on 2012’s “La Futura” (Best Buy edition), here it features background vocals by Christopher Cross.

Cross (who came full circle four years ago by returning to Texas after 30 years in Los Angeles) also contributes the album’s only non-Wilks guitar on his own “She Makes Me Crazy,” which features former Storyville singer Malford Milligan sharing vocals with Wilks.

The album was recorded at various Texas studios except for parts of “Golddigger,” for which Wilks’ vocals and some guitar were recorded at a studio outside Paris that had been a farm in the 1700s — “a magic place called Lumiere 13,” Wilks told GNM. He explained the French connection: “I’ve played France for years and have a great place in my heart for all things French. There’s a strong connection with Texas blues and the French music lovers. Don’t know why and I don’t try to figure it out!”

The centerpiece is “There’s a Sin in There Somewhere,” which begins like a scratchy 78 with solo resophonic guitar; morphs into a full-band showcase for electric slide à la Led Zeppelin’s version of “In My Time of Dying”; and concludes by smoothly segueing to a solo-resophonic outro.gnm_end_bug

1. Strange Girl
2. Drive By Lover
3. Golddigger
4. Just Walk Away
5. There’s A Sin In There Somewhere
6. 21st Century Blues
7. Who’s Foolin’ Who
8. She Makes Me Crazy
9. If I Were A Richman
10. Can’t Stop Thinkin’
11. Livin’ On Borrowed Time
12. Midnight Crossing

Total time: 52:24

External links
artist’s website
iTunes Store