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Laurence JonesLaurence Jones
Album: Take Me High
Label: RUF
Tracks: 10
Website: http://www.laurencejonesmusic.com

Laurence Jones has been making his mark on the UK blues scene for several years and if, like me, you've witnessed his live shows, you know he is a mercurial talent.

Now for his third album Laurence has raised the bar even higher. He's teamed up with legendary producer Mike Vernon - the man who has worked with just about everybody on the blues scene in the last 50 years - the Bluesbreakers, David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac, Eric Clapton, John Mayall and Ten Years After are just a few.

Here Laurence is powered by great bass from Roger Inniss and Phil Wilson on drums, with keyboards from Bob Fridzema and a guest appearance on harmonica by Paul Jones.

In his liner notes, Mike Vernon describes how he encouraged Laurence to make the recordings sound as if he was "in concert".

I think he's achieved it as well. The sound is fresh and punchy. Laurence's vocals have come on leaps and bounds - he's sounding much more confident.

Nine of the ten tracks are originals, with an excellent cover of Stevie Wonder's Higher Ground.

Mike Vernon thinks they've stretched the blues boundaries with this album and there is certainly a wide variety to be found here.

And while the blues pays a key role in most of the songs here there is much more subtlety and creativity to be found.

From the opening grungy bars of the opener Got No Place To Go, this is confident blues rock at its finest with some Prince-like guitar and lots of trills. The bass and drums are a perfect counterpoint for the blistering guitar.

There are plenty of different guitar sounds on this album and the energy throughout is electric.

The soulful Something's Changed shows another side to Laurence's playing, the rip-roaring Live It Up sounds like a crowd-pleaser if I've ever heard one, helped by the addition of some organ, and the title track just oozes blues-riff rock with some wonderful tasty guitar.

But listen to the stripped back The Price I Pay with Paul Jones blowing some tasteful harp, as the drums are mixed high in the mix, and you'll see there's more than one string to this young gunslinger's bow.

Reuben Richards does a great job on vocals on Higher Ground, with Laurence using all the tricks in his pedalboard - it's a superb version of a classic song and a great way to bring this excellent collection of songs to a satisfying conclusion.

A wonderful album.

John Knighton