Album Review - Alex Maryol “In the Meantime”
by Chris Diestler
For those unaware, Alex Maryol is pretty much blues guitar royalty around Santa Fe. He’s been honing his craft for decades, through practice, travel, and playing with his idols. His latest album, “In the Meantime,” is set for release across all services on February 28, 2020, with an IRL release party at Tumbleroot on the 29th. There’s a lot of ear candy on this release, and I’m going to break it down track by track:
- “Love Is What We Are Made For” – Great opener, with a hard-driving rock groove (à la ZZ Top).
- “All Night” – The disco foundation reminds me of “Some Girls”-era Rolling Stones. This track comes off very clean-sounding but I feel it could use some grit or menace, maybe a nasty club remix?
- “Rain Been Coming Down” – Slow and syrupy, which seems to be Maryol’s forte. This is one of the best songs on the album.
- “Made in Santa Fe” – A straight-up boogie number, not what I expect aesthetically from a song named after Santa Fe. In a way, I’m kind of glad he didn’t go the generic classical Spanish guitar route, although I’m now curious to hear his take on that style. Maryol seems to have a good ear for what will get people up and dancing.
- “In the Meantime” – This one’s got a slow burn that simmers the whole five minutes and could easily go on for another five.
- “Love Is What We Are Made For (reprise)” – In contrast to track #1, this arrangement feels more like a J.J. Cale smoky shuffle.
- “Worry” – A showy, well-constructed barnburner. Throw some horns in there and it’s a classic.
- “Telluride” – Exactly the kind of blues the Dickinson brothers are prone to bring. I’ll call it “Fast Delta,” but it also has a little John Lee Hooker flavor, so maybe “Delta-Chicago?” Maryol has already clocked in with more memorable riffs-per-album than most guitar heroes. This is great road trip music and should be turned up loud.
- “Hey Now Baby” – My first reaction was, “Is this already a Muddy Waters song?” Very barroom-bluesy.
- “Feeling Good” – Nina Simone was the first to re-record this showtune from 1964. Maryol proceeds to re-work it into an impressively slippery blues groove. Not everyone can take a standard and make it their own. Well done!
- “Where the River Flows” – An outstanding closing number, if one reads the album as a live set list. Here, Maryol reprises many of the memorable aspects of the album as a whole: another great riff, smoky barroom blues, road trip volume-blasting, classy but also gritty/mean/nasty. I noticed a passing reference to C.S. Lewis’ “That Hideous Strength,” which, if intentional, seems appropriate, since blues (in general) is a genre in which borrowing is endemic, and Lewis made no secret of his borrowing tendencies in that work. Maryol, however, has done what few blues artists rarely manage to do: change it up. While most blues are very “same-y,” Maryol goes out of his way to give his constructions some diversity, which is most welcome indeed.
FAVORITE TRACKS: 3, 5, 11, 7, 1