Review: Kirk Fletcher – My Blues Pathway
Cleopatra Records (25th September 2020)
Reviewer: David Pearce
Kirk Fletcher is a Blues guitarist who has been playing professionally for over 20 years. His first solo album was ‘I’m Here and I’m Gone‘ released in 1999. Two more albums, ‘Shades of Blue‘ and ‘My Turn‘ were released in the next decade. More recently Fletcher has self-released a live album and 2018’s ‘Hold On‘. Along with his solo work he has played with Cyndi Lauper, Joe Bonamassa and The Fabulous Thunderbirds and many other musicians. 2020 sees the release of his new album ‘My Blues Pathway‘.
The first track ‘Ain’t No Cure For The Downhearted‘ is a smooth blues inflected number that starts with a superb riff that leads into Fletcher’s marvellously deep and resonant voice. The guitar playing reminded me of Mark Knopfler but the voice is pure blues from the first note. It is a classy start to the album. ‘No Place To Go‘ is another gorgeous guitar led track that is smooth and oozes quality both musically and vocally. This is a singer who is absolutely steeped in the heritage of blues but who brings it up to date with a gorgeous soulful sensibility.
‘Love Is More Than A Word‘ has an Otis Redding feel to it with its ability to take you straight to the heart of the lyrics. You can feel the longing in his voice and his understated guitar playing. This is simply a gorgeous song that is absolutely timeless. ‘Struggle For Grace‘ returns to the more uptempo blues and it really makes you realise that Fletcher can literally turn his hand to virtually any style of playing and singing, such is his prodigious talent. ‘Rather Fight Than Switch‘ is a down and dirty blues number that seems to come from the heart of New Orleans and uses the whole range of his vocal styling to fantastic effect. He throws in a blistering guitar solo into the mix for good measure. It is a song that is probably my favourite on the album.
‘Heart So Heavy‘ takes us back down a notch with a mournful riff to start with and it just suits the title so well as the loneliness just comes through in each tortured note. His blues vocal once again shows a real and rare ability to sing in pretty much any style. ‘Fatting Frogs for Snakes‘ could only be a title that hails from America, and almost certainly you have the swamps of the South in your head. It is the most traditional blues song on the album and sounds as though it could be a classic from the 1940s or 1950s. ‘Place In This World Somewhere‘ really takes the tempo up a notch as he borrows from the Philly sound to give a different edge to the song. It is a song that contains, to my mind, his best pure vocal on the album.
‘D Is For Denny‘ is a rock and roll number that you could imagine Elvis belting out lyrics to at the beginning of his career but it is actually an instrumental with a virtuoso performance from Fletcher demonstrating, if there was any doubt, what a truly great guitarist he is. ‘Life Gave Me A Dirty Deal‘ is the final song on the album and it starts with the most gorgeous harmonica solo imaginable. When Fletcher’s voice comes in, it is terrifically world weary and you can believe that life has indeed given him a dirty deal. It is a brilliant end to a brilliant album.
So many times when I am reviewing I wonder why certain artists have not made it bigger and Kirk Fletcher definitely comes into that category. Blues is not necessarily the most accessible musical form, but Fletcher makes it talk directly to your heart. Give him a go. You definitely will not regret it.