We know that blues blew over plantations and into the cities.
We know that the blues extended to the north and east, and got electrified along the way. And that blues mixed with classic rock, funk, soul and jazz, and sooner or later it came to the British coast, brought in by military men and sailors. And then, via the empire and the commonwealth, we know that the blues spread its wings and literally flew… to all corners of the globe.
And maybe you would be right to declare that the blues finally came back home, to Africa. Although the South African blues and guitarist DAN PATLANSKY seems to be a million light-years away from the talking drums, skin-headed pumpkins and griot idiophones of the African music tradition — and that’s because he’s a European man as well as a proud African. But let’s not forget that there is a tradition of troubadouring common in both European and African folk music. So, the interbreeding of blues between the United States, Europe and Africa is more persuasive than one might expect … For example, the Zulu people adopted the guitar surprisingly early (the Portuguese introduced it to them in the 16th century) with John Bhengu changing-up to electric more or less the same time as the British.
Patlansky’s new album, “Perfection Kills” [out 2nd February] was recorded in Pretoria [Scherzo Productions] and is designed to sound strong, travel light and tour well in that tradition of the African/European minstrels. It is organic, it is plentiful and it is earthy — it’s like a warming potjie that is left to bubble on the coals while the older ones sing.
“In any art form perfection doesn’t exist because there is no yard-stick to measure it by…” says Patlansky. “The pursuit of perfection ends up doing more harm to the art than good.”
“This was the mindset we adhered to when we went into the recording studio… why try to be perfect?”
We had a listen —
“Johnny” is a thumping great rocker about a kid who survived a childhood. The riff is tempered with fire, as the beat grows stronger. And we feel the ache, along with Johnny, as we learn to survive. Reminiscent of “Livin’ on a Prayer” not just thematically but also with the use of distorted guitar, elegant inter-weaving bass and the hint of a glam aura.
“Never Long Enough” starts with odd fragments of keyboard before a fluster of guitar bursts through. The lumbering rhythm is integral to this piece — perhaps because it is about the monotony of real life, the uniformity of existence and the denial of some kind of final beatific closure . It’s an odd pop-rock fit on this album, perfectly executed, of course, but difficult to decipher.
But “Mayday” is much softer and more elegant, with waltz movement and a perverse consistency, although it never becomes excessively sentimental. It’s about the chemical reaction, sometimes radical, between two personalities: therefore, it contains an exultant guitar and soothing, smooth vocals. Maybe, if love hurts that much, we should let it go.
“Too Far Gone” is fizzier and crazier. With wacka-wacka guitar, sensationally sordid vocals and Kravitz-style grainy energy. It’s about us damaging our planet, war, greed and human stupidity. So this is a muscular and husky piece.
When we face problems, it is our ability to deal with them that marks us out as residents of the first world. But how do those who live in developing nations cope? Thus “Dog Day” is about life knocking you on your ass and finding the means to recover. It has a roaring sea of percussion, a bleached organ, an elastic and angular riff and an enthusiastic voice that seems full of grit and guts.
“Perfection Kills” is a broad-shouldered melange of pop-rock, intricate soul and jim-dandy rock ‘n’ blues… all beautifully expressed and perfectly assembled. Buy it, yes, but — most importantly —resolve to go watch it played live… you won’t regret it!
Words: @neilmach 2018 ©
Main Photo Credit: Adam Kennedy
Pre Order the new album: ‘PERFECTION KILLS’ here: https://danpatlansky.tmstor.es/
DAN PATLANSKY – PERFECTION KILLS MARCH 2018 UK TOUR
WITH SPECIAL GUEST MOLLIE MARRIOTT
TICKETS – thegigcartel.com / danpatlansky.com
Manchester, Deaf Institute Thursday 15 March
Newcastle, The Cluny Friday 16 March
Leek, Foxlowe Arts Centre Saturday 17 March
Bristol, The Tunnel Sunday 18 March
Sheffield, Greystones Tuesday 20 March
London, Borderline Wednesday 21 March