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HENRIK FREISCHLADER Still Frame Replay Cable Car Records CCR 0311-35 (2011)

Henrik Freischlader

'Still Frame Replay' confirms Henry Freischlader as a fine multi instrumentalist, a guitarist of real substance and an evocative vocalist.

Henrik's playing effortlessly recalls the Peter Green of yester-year and he is a vocalist with a deep affinity to both JJ Cale and Steve Miller. He is also a songwriter unafraid to delve into his own psyche. And as a German musician playing his own brand of understated blues rock grooves, this new album puts him in an unassailable position to banish any potential mischievous questions such as 'can Germans sing the blues?'

Freischlader is a feel player and a sensual singer who uses the blues as an anchor rather than an albatross. From the opening title track duet with tour buddy Joe Bonamassa to the close to the mic Steve Miller style vocals of the final 'Look At The Fool', you are in the presence of a major talent for whom a mix of intense grooves, subtle tones, and meticulously produced studio artistry is of paramount importance. A nd while the opening fiery licks suggests just what Henrik is capable of, most of this album is a journey through a pattern of intricately woven subtle tone colours and elemental grooves.

Freischlader's best work, be it his fluid soloing or his gentle vocal caress doesn't so much leap out at you as gradually envelope you like the most delicate of sea breezes. At the core of 11 mesmerising and beguiling tracks lies the integral relationship between the artist turned producer and his studio assistant Martin Meinshafer.

The full bodied production and crisp mastering crucially captures the subtle band interplay and moments of real spark. As a result Henrik manages to crossover the blues into more interesting and unexpected territories. Which kind of brings us back to Steve Miller, whose close harmonies and briefly double tracked vocals are a feature of Henrik's approach on songs like 'Longer Days' and 'What's My Name', while the latter track also evokes the unhurried mixed back vocal style of JJ Cale.

Such is the warmth and almost languid undertow of the material that 'Come On My Love' sounds almost like a shuffle Albert Collins might have cut as an afterthought, before turning to weightier matters. Henrik hits base with the following 'What's My Name' which is full of the reflective irony of a dude on the prowl; 'Checking my phone, five hundred girls hanging on', I looked through the names, started with A, curious about what they gonna say' and takes its place among a hand full of self analytical songs such as 'If I Could Only Be Myself' and the marvellous 'Look At The Fool'.

The other strength of the album is its diversity born of Henrik's willingness to go where a groove takes him. For example, there's the sharply drawn contrast between the Peter Green style 'The Memory Of Our Love' - a slow drifting blues with aching vocals, sumptuous guitar tone, cool organ line and a beautifully nuanced solo on the gentle fade out, and 'Gentlemen', the closest

Henrik gets to an outright commercial track.. A gentle Bossa beat underpins a Craig David style vocal without the beats, but with benefit of some lovely gentle guitar flourishes. Then there's the thunderous grungy riffs and dirgy groove of 'If I Could Only Be Myself' which again contrasts with the lazy after hours, back porch feel of the Mose Allison influenced 'I've Got It Good'.

And as if to restate his independent spirit he's unafraid to slip into the piano led ballad 'Growing Old, a song whose lyrical sincerity is probably as real as the need for something more dynamic than the salient piano and twin guitar lines that try to carry it forward. But it works as a gentle conduit to the heavy riff rocking of 'Do Did Done', a distant relative of the title track with its hurriedly delivered chorus.

And finally there's the magnificent 'Look At The Fool' which provides a triumphant finish and perfectly distils what Henrik is all about.

'Still Frame Replay' is the work of a contemporary blues artist, a strong songwriter, a majestic guitar player and a supremely confident recording artist whose star is on the rise.


Review by Pete Feenstra

Gig review and video interview


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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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