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Reviews for: Love vs BluesBUY NOW

<a href="">Love vs Blues, by The Paul Garner Band</a>

One of the good things of reviewing cd's is that, once in a while, you get a real masterpiece to review, a record you normally would never had heard... Such a record is 'Love vs Blues' by Paul Garner. Although he was born in England, he grew up in New Zealand, and he also returned to this island to record his first album. Why this cd is that good? First of all the style Garner plays in. One way or the other he succeeds in merging jazz with blues. Since the band that recorded the album with him plays a lot as a jazz-quartet, it's not that odd of course, but Garner stays loyal to his blues-roots (just listen to the slide-guitar he plays on 'Louisiana Blues').

Further you can not deny the strength of Paul as a musician, and I'm not talking about his sublime guitar-playing only. The man owns one of the most magnificent voices I heard on cd this year. In a number of songs he even made me think about Jamie Cullum, the young million-selling artist, who personally is responsible for the rebirth of jazz in the UK. The sum of his qualities as a musician and his exceptional talent for songwriting is incredibly high. The swinging 'Tequila Amnesia', the instigating 'Another Day In New Orleans' or the breathtaking 'Goodnight My Love', they are all highlights recorded between other highlights (twelve to be exact, all written by Garner himself). I think 'Love vs Blues' is a cd every music-lover should hear once if he or she can. I'm not pushing this record because, as I said earlier, the influences of jazz are more than present, but I can speak for myself and say that this album probably will be in my personal top 5 of this year.

Steven Verhoeven (Belgium/Holland) - Oct 2005

Paul Garner offers a classy collection of songs that hark back to the days when musicians, rather than computers, played music. Recorded by Arron Merrie at Aztek Studios in Rotorua, this album has all the feel, mood and groove of a well produced jam session. Although blues by name, the resulting style leans more towards a jazz/blues fusion rather than raw delta blues. The musical centrepiece is Garner's highly competent guitar, while Liam Ryan, Nigel Masters and Warren Houston's organ, double bass and drums (respectively) fits the genre perfectly. Garner's father, Mike, rounds off the ensemble with some gutsy harmonica on three of the tracks, providing an overall sound that lacks nothing, and refreshingly avoids falling into the trap of being over produced. Although the songs are original, the style is familiar enough that they kind of sound like you've heard them before (in a good way!), making 'Love vs Blues' a very easy album to get into. A good example is Tequila Amnesia - reminiscent of some of Bill Hayley's 'other' songs, although far better recorded. For those who like their music 'real', this is well worth checking out.

Tim Page
NZ Musician magazine - Dec 2005

Singer/guitarist Paul Garner was born in Bedford, raised in New Zealand and is based in London. Garner returned to NZ to record Love vs Blues with the support of three of the country's best blues musicians. The album of 12 original songs demonstrates a maturity of touch and talent that belies Garner's relatively young age (26).

The title track opens proceedings in a light Latin-jazz tinged mood. Garner is a good guitarist and has the voice to match. The band's style is firmly rooted in the blues with several forays to the blues/jazz border. There is a nice variation in pace too, but none of this fazes the band (keyboards, bass and drums plus harp on three tracks): they are equally at home on slower blues like "Just Got Out Of Jail" and more uptempo numbers like the excellent toe-tapper "Blue Morning Light".

The band get a little funky for "Another Day In New Orleans" which is reminiscent of Anders Osborne. This is followed by "No Truth To Tell", another fine song with shades of Mose Allison to it, thanks largely to Liam Ryan's keyboards. After a quick stroll through "Bread & Circuses" the album ends in style courtesy of the late night club feel of "Goodnight My Love".

Love vs Blues shows that Paul Garner is a fine talent. His style occupies the same sort of territory as Ronnie Earl and Sonny Black, with a measure of Anders Osborne thrown in for good measure. Hopefully blues clubs up and down the country will be booking him when he gets back from his December tour of Japan because, on the evidence of Love vs Blues, Paul Garner certainly deserves to be heard by a wide audience.

Gordon Baxter
Blues In Britain magazine - (Recommended)