Ross Robinson/BluesIn Toronto presentation
The Toronto singer/songwriter/guitarist, Anthony Gomes, has been creating virtuosic, burning blues since his recorded debut in 1998. 12 releases and numerous awards and ecstatic accolades later, the aptly-named, riff-laden Electric Field Holler crackles with his bare wires passion. The heavy hitting “Turn It Up!” has Gomes rightly boasting “…got Mississippi lightning in my soul, I was raised on the thunder of rock ‘n’ roll…gonna play the music till the day I die, just like B.B. King and Buddy Guy,” his voice and guitar roaring. “Back Door Scratchin’” uses clever tom cat imagery “You found someone new, don’t want me no more. You put me out, baby, can’t get past your door… I’m back door scratchin’, howlin’ all night. I’m back door scratchin’ till the morning light.” The mighty chugging “Whiskey Train” has Gomes growling “It’s gonna take a whole lot of whiskey to drink away the pain. I gotta get half-way down the label, or go insane,” his guitar smoking like a 20-ton locomotive.
On “Blueschild” Gomes delivers mythic autobiography “It’s like a fire, that’s burning out of control. I’m a six-string slinger, I’m a juke joint singer, daddy, I was born to play, I was born a blues child” and then proves it. The dramatic, compassionate minor key “Nowhere Is Home” pulses like a heartbeat under “There’s a child on the street with no shoes on his feet, in the city. He’s far away from home, living all alone in the city.” “Losing Game” finds Gomes raging instrumentally and vocally “People talking, all over town, say you’re doing me wrong, dirty low down. Lady luck’s got me, paying dues, got me walking in the shadow of the blues.”
“The Blues Ain’t The Blues No More” decries “I went to the crossroads, but the devil don’t stay there no more. There’s nothing but a gas station, and the Delta donut store,” his authentic Delta slide guitar harkening back to an earlier era. On the pumping “Junk In The Trunk” Gomes utilizes the hip phrases for carnal desire “She’s got the thing that does it for me, she’s the bomb and it’s World War III, she’s got the junk in the trunk…” The swinging “Love Crazy” features sweet backup vocals and the devastating reality “Never wanted this, not even a little. Love’s got its highs and lows, I’m stuck in the middle… Said I never play with fire, oh baby, you made me a liar.”
The contemporary tale “Red Handed Blues” cannot end well due to “It was party time, last Friday night. Johnny was getting married, had to send him off right. Told the girls we were going, to a fishing hole, but we went to a night club, where the girls dance on a pole.” A surprising half-minute instrumental, “Delta Raga,” features a sitar sound in a promising progressive style. The closing, apocalyptic “Listen To The Universe” warns “You’ve been riding, moving forward in reverse. You’ve been wondering, how things could get much worse. But every road leads to somewhere, listen to the universe,” Gomes’ trademark lyrical guitar lines as soul-searing as his vocals.
Anthony Gomes sings and plays with integrity and deeply felt emotion oblivious to fortune and fashion. The resulting music is a blazing cathartic experience radiating therapeutic heat for body and soul.
Dave Rubin, KBA recipient in Journalism