Review: Chris Duarte – Ain’t Giving Up
Provogue Records (April 14th, 2023
Reviewer: Stephen Brophy
Sometimes you need to live with an album a long time before some of the intricacies and nuances start to sink in properly and for me ‘Ain’t Giving Up‘ was one of those alums. Please don’t get me wrong here, I’m sure that others felt the vibe straight away and ran with it, and it really is a good album, but a couple of things just didn’t sit with me, but more than likely that’s a personal thing and nothing more.
Duarte has been releasing albums since the late 80’s either as a solo artist, with various versions of his own bands or in conjunction with other artists like Japans Bluestone Company, this new release being his 15th studio album. Being a Texan and playing Texas Blues it’s also interesting to see just how many different influences are in his music, definitely Rock ‘n’ Roll, Jazz and a bit of old school boogie. Although I love variety from a musician or in an album at times I think perhaps it takes away the focus a little with this one, or perhaps it’s just the flow of the music that takes a bit of a hit, but not to worry, all the elements are here.
When the album starts up you could perhaps be forgiven that there is a problem with the with the audio until it bursts into life, look I know it’s an Intro, but something about this particular one bugs me, but as for the track itself, ‘Nobody But You’ is definitely a foot stomper that kicks things off beautifully. One thing that is such a solid thread throughout the album is Duarte’s playing, whether it’s screaming solos or classic slow tempo rumbling Blues there is classy playing all over the 12 tracks on offer.
Love the blues rock orientated songs, but for me Chris really hit’s the spot when on his slow groove in ‘Gimme Your Love’ or the title track, they just seem to fit his delivery perfectly and allow nice expression with his guitar work. All through the album the music is excellent, whatever the style, Blues, Rock, Americana, Roots or Rock ‘n’ Roll, there’s plenty going on and it all has it’s own place..
Highlights for me are the aforementioned ‘Nobody But You’, a cracking instrumental in ‘Can Opener’ which isn’t anything but perfectly paced and has that ability in a song where you here it and it just flies by so you stick it on again and again, add in the terrific closing track ‘Weak Days’ which is a grumbling marauding track that just bubbles along under the skin at at slow pace just digging itself in and I think this is where Chris is at his best in the slightly mournful slow burners.
A very good album from an artist that should probably have more recognition along the way, but if you are not familiar with Chris Duarte go and grab this one and enjoy it, keep listening to it as it isn’t a release that can be just thrown on the turntable and tossed away, plenty to dig into and lots of variety, and for me it’s a very personal album that needs time. Everything is not for me here, but that’s my own thing, perhaps just sticking it on shuffle takes that away. Would love to hear some of these tracks live at some point, fingers crossed.
1 Nobody But You
2 Big Fight
3 Bye, Bye, Bye
4 Can Opener
5 Gimme Your Love
6 Come My Way
7 Half As Good As You
8 Lies Lies Lies
9 Ain’t Giving Up On Us
10 Look What U Made Me Do
11 The Real Low Down
12 Weak Days