July 8, 2021

…an earthy, raw guitar-led album,and a good showcase for McKeon’s remarkable guitar dexterity

Any guitar man who can make a name fronting his own band when only thirteen has to have some kind of special talent. Scott McKeon has proven down the years he has the rare ability to play guitar and be able to make it almost sit up and beg for him, and his third album New Morning, is an earthy, raw guitar-led album, and a good showcase for McKeon’s remarkable guitar dexterity. The playing on this album is pretty damn good, merging together many of the diverse influences McKeon grew up listening to, and it’s easy to imagine sitting back with a Jack Daniels and just grooving along with some of the tunes performed. But what really brings it all together is the ‘feel,’ with the whole album being cut ‘live,’ mostly in one take, in only four days. Some bands take longer than this just to get a drum sound! Scott’s intent was to  ‘go with the flow and jam, just letting it all come out’,with no endless series of takes and usage of Pro-tools; instead, playing some fine blues based tunes in a soulful rock manner.

He does a superb job of mixing up the genres without ever losing touch with the bluesy side of what he does. An example of this is the title track, New Morning, where after a slow bluesy opening and some Hendrix-style guitar picking, the playing ramps up and the track takes on an almost heavy metal feel with several moments of guitar riffing … but then it all finishes back with a slow blues. Similarly with the blues/funk Zapruder, where the keys come to the fore in the kind of groove that Santana use to good effect. Fight No More is a loose, upbeat swinging ’60s-style cinematic opener with wah-wah effects and guitar shredding a la Clapton, whom Scott supported at Hyde Park, and Fego, a laid-back non-12 bar blues, is the kind of track you could imagine grooving along to in a late night blues club. Third Eye Witnes’ is the first of three tracks featuring the vocals of Ross Stanley and is already up on Spotify. Crossfader begins with a very proggy keyboard sound reminiscent of early seventies bands like Egg and Arzachal. There’s minimal guitar until halfway, when the track speeds up and becomes more rocky.

If any one track on the album has the feel of a song being written as it’s played, Everything Is Nothing is that song. The vibe shifts on this track over some fine guitar work, across a repeated vocal refrain of ‘Everything is Nothing’. But, for this reviewer, the best track on the album is the mellow Take Me Back, a slow, bluesy tune with some superb, deliciously understated guitar playing, and very likely the best song Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac never performed.

Scott McKeon doesn’t have the flash of Joe Bonamassa or Gary Moore, or the stylish playing of Walter Trout, but he’s on the way to catching up with players who’ve been around a lot longer than him. It also helps that he has top-notch performers playing alongside him, which is the case here, with a fine supporting cast all playing ‘live’ in the studio together. This album probably won’t set the charts on fire, but it’s one deserving to be heard by a wider audience.