Duke Garwood is a London born blues rock/experimental musician that has worked with such luminaries as Mark Lanegan, The Savages and the Archie Bronson Outfit. Garden of Ashes is his sixth album and finds our man very much in fine form both vocally and musically.
The collection opens with ‘Coldblooded’ where the listener finds themselves in the middle of showdown and a world where we must “trade a tale of good gone bad.” A low-down dirty guitar strut of a song is revealed and it burns with a vocal full of experience that has aged like a good whiskey. A soulful backing vocal lifts the song and the backwater blues lick adds the required bar room atmosphere. ‘Sonny Boogie’ follows suit and it shuffles with menace and a funk laden guitar motif which is ably matched by Garwood’s deep and laid back vocal styling. It soon becomes clear that this is an album richly coloured with guitar as ‘Blue’ highlights a mellower, but none the less effective, side of the songwriter.
‘Days gone old’ has a simple but effective chord progression and tells a tale of love grown stale where a scorned lover calls out Garwood ‘…like a renegade as he laments “these riches of days gone old we only view in black and white.” ‘Sing to the sky’ is an acoustic tune that talks of landscapes and is all light and shade. ‘Garden of Ashes’ is slinky and snakes along nicely while ‘Heat us down’ raises tempo and indeed, the temperature. ‘Hard Dreams’ is a standout. It adds the low-end weight with ethereal vocal delivery all the while meditating on time and loss and ‘how many more times will love breathe on’. ‘Move on softly’ is strong in imagery with “Dust….(that)…rises like a flock of angels” and it has a beat to match; both are executed with extreme confidence.
The chords of ‘Sleep’ are deliciously dark with our vocalist sounding weary and troubled. ‘Coldblooded: The return’ is an epic finisher and just like the opener it revels in the sultry soulful vocals that give a fitting end to this rather excellent collection of songs. Duke Garwood has produced an album that is perfect to listen to out on the porch as you sit back and enjoy the sun going down as you savour on that perfect glass of bourbon.