Stewart Lindsey – ‘Amitié’ reviewed

❉ Dave Stewart and Thomas Lindsey’s second collaboration is the purest blues album in some time.

Some guitar heroes can’t be measured in virtuosity, speed or skill. Some guitarists must be noted for their feel, flavour and fusion. Take George Harrison, a stylist who could never match Paul McCartney’s ferocity, but could hold his own as a melodist. Take Izzy Stradlin, the soulful anchor behind Slash’s sprawling, spiralling finger work. Or take Dave Stewart, a mercurial musician whose shrewd knowledge of his vocalists needs has resulted in tracks as exhilarating as the Tourists’ do-over of I Only Want To Be With You, or as piercing as Aretha Franklin-Annie Lennox duet Sisters Are Doin’ it For Themselves.

He’s always been a generous support to his foundling musicians, one he recently found on Twitter. Caught by the eagerness of an aspiring fan, Stewart was blown away by the propensity, prowess and romance of the vocalist. Thomas Lindsey, a white vocalist with the attitude of a black American chanteuse, walked himself into an audition, but a reluctance to leave Louisiana nearly put the proverbial brake on any collaboration between Lindsey and Stewart. And yet, with the rise of the technology at it’s most useful, the two men produced Spitballin’ over emails, downloads and leisurely, laconic phone conversations.

And now there’s Amitié, inarguably the purest blues album in some time. Caught between hotel rooms, time zones and changing geographies, Stewart Lindsey’s second effort is an assured guitar album, channeling the purity of gospel music with the truthfulness the genre needs. The offspring of an online collaboration, the record nonetheless captures the startling synergy that must exist between a band of this ambitious standing.

“It usually only takes a single word to inspire a song,” Lindsey admitted; “and in this case ‘Friendship’ was the word. That thought paired with the fantastic soundscapes Dave is able to create with his guitar allowed us to have a musical conversation about friendship and the true importance of it.”

Lean and melodic, with a cutting edge that heightens during the riveting climax, lead single Liberation best presents this duology with whimsical, wearisome tunefulness. Which isn’t to say there isn’t tunefulness to be heard on opening track Storm Came (which features an inventive use of dobro guitar), and that there isn’t whimsy weary heard on the affecting closer Lord Save Us Today (calling attention to Lindsey’s ghostly, waspy falsetto). It’s more of a confident reflection of the album that it can offer such an uber-trendy single, without discarding some of the more thoughtful material the album offers. Take Last Night, a dazzling ballad, brought to further life thanks to Stewart’s tasteful arrangement; take Brothers in Arms, a jauntier exercise than that hangs in a Mark Knopfler songbook; or take Finding Freedom, a soaring, searching number that comes from the gut just as much as the heart. More than that, it’s a chummy sounding record, channeling the theme it chases with a cosy, comforting sound.

All of which makes the inevitable third chapter an unenviable one for the pair to produce. But why should we worry about any upcoming projects, when they sound so vital here and now?

Stewart Lindsey  – ‘Amitié’ (Bay Street Records) available on all digital and streaming platforms on Friday, July 17, 2020, on Bay Street Records, distributed by The Orchard:

❉ Social: Stewart Lindsey | Dave StewartBay Street Records 

❉ Eoghan Lyng is a regular contributor to We Are Cult. His writing has also appeared in Record Collector, CultureSonar, Punk Noir Magazine, DMovies, Phacemag and other titles. Follow him on TwitterVisit his homepage.

Feature image credit: Matt Spracklen

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