Blowing away the cobwebs of last year and accepting the impending doom of the apocalypse we have a saviour. Duke Garwood has returned with a new album in an attempt to provide us with a safe house or some form of sanctuary. In his own words Garwood describes the album as:-
“This record is fantasy music, Beautiful apocalypse love music, it doesn't hide from reality, but it could hide the listener from it all for a while.”
Garden Of Ashes is his 6th studio album and builds on the critically acclaimed album Heavy Love from a few years ago.
It’s more of the same from South London’s most unlikely bluesman as he serves up a soothing realism that has an intensity that stops you in your tracks. Lead single ‘Coldblooded’ oozes with a hypnotic gruffness and haunting lyrics which are superbly complemented via his catchy fuzz guitar. Using a heap of metaphors to explain his sorrow at the current state of the world Garwood laments “Cold blooded in the blaze of the sun/Set the lizards free/Run before they burn”
Are we the lizards and is the sun the media onslaught we are subjected to? Garwood explains further that during the process for making this album he came to realise that we needed “To become masters of our fate and stop listening to the snake talkers who would steal our last breath. It’s time to go Elvis and shoot the cursed TV.”
There has clearly been some deep soul searching which is evident in tracks like the title track which is sumptuous in its laid back tempo that describes natural beauty. This is continued within the album via ‘Sonny Boogie’ which acts as an escape from the impending doom and ‘Heat Us Down’ which is a straight up love song about the wonder and beauty that surrounds us all if we only open our eyes and ears to it.
‘Sing To The Sky’ illustrates Duke’s strength to create an intense yet warming track which is drenched in a blues tradition yet is fresh and modern. This track sums up his ability and reassures us that as an artist for over 20 years, he has collected a clarity and ferocity that we all need to lend our ears too.
Garwood’s album is beautifully hypnotic as he spreads his vision like some old town crier who is predicting the end of the world. Yet whilst in the past these doom mongers may have been dismissed, Garwood acts more as a visionary that has glimpsed the future and he’s here to tell us that the future isn’t too bright. By his own admission he is an angry man. Yet he equally states that the world doesn’t need any more angry music. We think that Duke sums it up best "Everyone can turn on the TV and see the horror show, they don't need to hear it coming out the stereo. I’m trying to distil this frustrating feeling we all have right now into something more focused.”