Artists are often stacked up against those who came before them. But sometimes, there is no comparison to be made. Such is the case with Charlie Sayles. With 42 years of performance experience behind him, Sayles is a true journeyman on the blues music scene. Having traveled the globe from London to Shanghai with stops in between at such places as Carnegie Hall where he received a standing ovation, Charlie has fine tuned his craft in every corner of the world. His latest release, Charlie Sayles & the Blues Disciples, is available now.
Charlie Sayles & the Blues Disciples opens with Those Things of Old, a track about an appreciation for old school beliefs and passing on knowledge to the next generation. Sayles’ deep, soulful vocals and the accompanying blues guitar strumming create the feel of being in a smoky lounge in New Orleans. Jesus Christ is the singer’s declaration of his belief in God and borders on proselytizing, but the sincerity of the vocals is inspiring. New Day Coming offers a beautiful blend of percussion, guitar, and harmonica, against a theme of rolling with the inevitable changes life brings before moving on to These Chains where Sayles sings about trying to live with personal demons. The first half wraps with Vietnam, a track that demonstrates the physical atmosphere and mental challenges of being there utilizing an incredibly emotional harmonica solo.
The second half of Charlie Sayles & the Blues Disciples opens with the seemingly rock influenced Everybody’s Got Something to Say followed by Arella, a track that takes the gruff factor up a bit, vocally creating a feeling of yearning. I Don’t Want to Die reflects on living with life’s mistakes that you keep repeating despite knowing better. The harmonica playing here is a thing of beauty, going to places I’ve never heard, hitting high notes off the chart. Laughin and Grinnin looks at the different emotions a person goes through in life while Charlie creates a musical parallel to the lyrics by dancing up and down the scale of his harmonica. The final track on Charlie Sayles & the Blues Disciples is Green Peace, an environmental song with a slightly less bluesy feel to it overall. However, once again, Charlie busts out that harmonica and just like on every other song, he plays the hell out of it.
A self-taught pro who possesses emotive vocals that convey the very authenticity that defines the blues, Charlie works magic all over this release with his countless, mind-blowing harmonica solos. Also contributing to the success of Sayles’ latest work is the addition of blues guitarist extraordinaire Tony Fazio. On most of the tracks, it sounds as if Sayles’ harmonica and Fazio’s guitar solos are speaking to each other as they bounce flawlessly back and forth to create an unbelievable mesh of melodiousness. Ultimately, Charlie Sayles & the Blues Disciples is a 10 track master class in the elevation of blues music achieved through the infusion of personal credibility. One of the best blues albums in recent years, Charlie Sayles & the Blues Disciples deserves your attention, and quite possibly, an award. If you love or even like the blues, do yourself a favor and check it out!