By Graham Clarke
Randy Lee Riviere’s musical catalog is pretty far-reaching. He’s played folk-rock, Americana, outlaw country, southern rock, and even straight rock n’ roll. This time around, he ventures into blues-rock territory with an assist from producer/multi-instrumentalist Kevin McKendree, who certainly knows that territory, having worked with many of the legends in the blues and rock genres. The results of the collaboration can be heard via Riviere’s newest release, Blues Sky (New Wilderness Records).
In addition to McKendree (guitars/keyboards/vocals), Riviere is joined on these eleven original tracks by drummer Kenneth Blevins, and bassist David Santos, plus the McCrary Sisters, who lend background vocal on one special song.
The opener, “American Redoubt,” has a rugged rhythm and jagged lead guitar from McKendree that would be a solid fit on a ZZ Top tune. “You’re So Kind” has a heavy, droning guitar riff, punctuated by Riviere’s rumbling, half-spoken vocal delivery, and “Do or Don’t” is a straight-forward rocker with heavy guitar interplay, while “Needles” (a new version of a tune originally written and recorded during his “Mad Buffalo Riviere” incarnation) has a strong Southern rock vibe.
“Spit Shine” is a driving mid-tempo rocker, which is followed by the somber ballad “Just One More Time” and the country-flavored rocker “Old Country’s Son.” “What Do You Know About Pain?” and “Rocky’s Road” are both gripping blues rockers – the former leans more toward the blues side of the aisle and the latter toward rock.
The gritty “Joseline” tells of a failed relationship with lasting effects, and the closer, “Cold, Cold River” is a stunning gospel number that features the McCrary Sisters providing sublime backing vocals.
Blues Sky adds another genre to Randy Lee Riviere’s wide-ranging musical repertoire. His incorporation of other musical styles into the blues works extremely well and will appeal to fans of those various genres.