Review by Peter Coates – www.facebook.com/InsideEdgePhotography
This is the debut release from young French blues rock guitarist Félix Rabin who has been based in London for the past 3 years developing his craft and reputation, including his first main support slot with Wishbone Ash around the UK, which then led on to his own UK club tours and summer festival shows before heading over to LA to record what has ended up as a 6-track EP with engineering from Ross Hogarth (Van Halen / Ziggy Marley / REM).
The name of the “Pogboy” EP, was derived from a guitar effects pedal. “While I was recording those songs, there was one guitar pedal effect that I ended up using a lot called the Pog,” recalls Félix. Ross asked me why I was using so much of this effect on almost every song. I told him that I just really liked it. That’s when Ross came up with the nickname “Pogboy”, and the record title was born.
The 2020 plans for tours with Samantha Fish have been postponed about halfway through the dates, along with most of the summer festival shows, so the EP has been released now as a taster for the future.
Any blues guitarist who makes a heavy use of the Hammond Organ and what sounds like a real brass section is OK by me, and Félix has delivered a set of just wonderful blues rock, with a tinge of soul and jazz-funk in places, and the opening to the record in Walk is a throwback to the 1970s progressive blues rock era, with distorted-tremeloed guitars, organ and spacey, echoing vocals, with some sensational drumming from Niccolo Rebecchi – this has left nothing on the table, all the way through to the crashing feedback-laden close.
A mellow slightly funky beat kicks off Moving On with much more laid-back guitar and the delightful contrast of the horn section delivered by Joe Sublett and Mark Pender. There are shades of Gilmour, Clapton and Knopfler in here, as well as some more contemporary influences like Aaron Keylock, and such a smooth vocal delivery over the top.
Say (You Won’t Leave Me) struts out of the speakers like a white boy playing Eric Gales and Gary Clarke Jr with a nod to Lenny Kravitz, and the effect on the guitar for the solo is perfect for the chattering elements before Félix rips into the cleanest solo this side of a Joe Bonamassa record, and the warmth of the saxophone that backs the final chorus is just perfect. Angels drops the pace to the feel of a smoke-filled club late in the evening, with a wicked little riff at the opening to each verse and a solo over the staccato beat from bass and drums before the slightly behind the beat chorus.
Standout track (nearly) of the album is the 7 minute opus, Death which opens with a mellow guitar line and such soft vocals that this could be a soul ballad – sounding nothing like a 24 year-old. The guitar solo starts out so subtle, with the band slowly building up the volume and power, and the organ kicking into a higher gear as the guitar gets louder and more distorted, and just when you expect the crescendo, the track slips back to the mellow guitar to the outro and you can let that breath out!
Final track Gone is just a jaw-dropping closer to the record, opening with a real Gary Clarke Jr feel before the smooth and mellow intro and verse before the horn section starts to rip it up, and the song becomes a full-throttle blues rocker that is laden with emotion and leaves you breathless!
While there is clearly a heap of guitar talent in Félix repertoire, this is not a virtuoso album in any sense, with the focus being on a collection of great songs, with some wonderful musicianship and production that really puts this EP right up there as one of THE Blues releases of 2020!
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