Sunday, March 5, 2017

Geoff Achison – Another Mile, Another Minute

Long before either Crocodile Dundee or Men At Work hit the states, I was fascinated by Australia. Couldn’t begin to tell you why, but I read all the stories about its history and culture and even memorized more than a few poems by Banjo Paterson.  
Along the way there were great musicians to encounter, and since Henry Cook and I started Time For The Blues nearly eleven years ago, I’ve tried to play our fair share of blues artists from Down Under.
It hasn’t always been easy, but thanks to some friends in Australia, we are kept abreast of some of the best players on the continent. And lately, thanks to a couple of the publicists who share great music with us, we’ve been fortunate to receive work from different artists.
Recently I wrote about a group called Lazy Eye (check them out here), and today I would like to examine the latest work from the soulful Geoff Achison. Achison is a prolific player who doesn’t limit his interest in the blues; he also covers rock, rhythm and blues, and soul. Based out of Melbourne, he’s competed at the IBC in Memphis and even took home top honors as “Best Guitar Player.”
While he’s best known for his work with his band, The Souldiggers, he’s equally at home as a solo artist, and many of the songs on his current album, Another Mile, Another Minute, are orchestrated so that they could be performed solo.  
Achison handles the guitars and vocals and he is joined by a core band comprised of longtime Souldigger Roger McLachlan on bass; Gerry Pantazis on drums and percussion; and Richard Tankard on keyboards. Special guests include another longtime Souldigger, Mal Logan playing piano and synth on three tracks; Susie Ahern, Hannah Harwood, and Steve Romig on backing vocals; Paul Williams and Jack Howard on sax and trumpet respectively’ and Keith Nolan playing a Wurlitzer piano solo on one track.
A trio of well-known Australian roots performers: Chris Wilson, Lloyd Spiegel, and Shannon Bourne add their talents on harp, vocals, and guitar on one song each.
Achison shows that he has strong songwriting abilities, penning all 14 of the songs on the album.
The album starts off with a quiet opening, High Wire. Achison’s voice is rough in a gruff sort of way which is nicely balanced by the backing vocals. This one has a distinctive rhythm and blues sound and Achison plays a good guitar break.
He follows up with a quiet story song, Delta Dave, that showcases his ability to write excellent lyrics. Achison opens with just the solo guitar and vocals and I’ve always been attracted to songs like this one. Very well done.
Next up is Working My Way Back Home, a song with a nice throwback sound. I really felt like I was back in the ‘70’s with this nice rhythm and blues sound and Logan’s piano worked well with Achison’s guitar. Plus I need to give kudos to Pantzis percussion giving the song just a slightly different feel.
Chris Wilson’s harp gives an extra kick to the very bluesy I’m Gonna Ride. This has got a very funky bass, thanks to McLachlan, and this song will easily be making an appearance on Time For The Blues. This is a really good song.
I really liked A New Bad Habit, a quiet late night rhythm and blues song with a very funky bassline. The lyrics are very clever and tell the story of a guy who’s left all of his old bad habits behind and is now searching for a new one. The horns add a nice touch to the song.
Singer Lloyd Spiegel adds his touch to the very swamp fueled, I Wish You Were Mine. This song is pure blues and should be making the rounds on all of the blues shows, I know it will be featured on Time For The Blues!
Next up is the title track, Another Mile, Another Minute. With a title like that you would think this would be a fast up-tempo number, but Achison likes to surprise us and so this is a low and slow number with a good horns and piano mix.
Another great blues song follows. Make No Mistake has a strong contribution from the bass and drums and some serious gospel flavor. The lyrics are very good, and Achison takes a good guitar break before giving Shannon Bourne the outgoing guitar solo.
To the Aboriginal People of Australia, dreams form an integral part of their art, history, and culture. I can’t say if that was an influence on Dreaming I’m Awake, but I wouldn’t be surprised. Achison’s lyrics are poetic, and the quiet opening plays well with his vocals. There’s a great guitar break that sounds otherworldly, ethereal. This is one of my favorites on the album.
With a title like Sum Peeples Got All Da Funk, don’t expect a tender love ballad. The title sums it up nicely and the tongue in cheek lyrics mix well with the bass and horns. Keith Nolan provides a great piano solo.
The follow up with a nice up-tempo number, Baby Come Back. This song is a lot of fun and Achison experiments a little with the sound He’s got a good guitar break and amazing breath control for a couple of lines. The next song, I Need Help, has a nice swing tempo with a deliberate beat. The lyrics are good and Achison has some very good guitar work.
One of the best songs on the album, Make My Stand, utilizes a swampy Resonator guitar and gospel keyboards to create an excellent blues number. This one is solid first note to last and is another that should be receiving consistent airplay.
Finally, the album concludes with a very sweet instrumental, Front Porch Farewell. It has a decided country flavor and feels more like a sunset than a sunrise, but it’s gorgeous either way.
As you’ve no doubt gathered, this is not a strictly blues album, and for me, that’s okay. I like to listen to an artist explore a variety of styles and Achison is a guitar player and singer with enormous talent, so by all means, take those different roads and let’s see where they go.
This is the first of his 14 albums that has crossed my desk, but it certainly will not be the last. I will be picking up his previous work and look forward to sampling it with you in the near future.
But if you can’t wait, and I wouldn’t blame you if you couldn’t, start with his website: https://www.geoffachison.com/ and especially check out the part where it says he’ll be touring in the US and UK from March to May. Maybe we’ll have a chance to catch him live.


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