Gwyn Ashton – Mojosoul
Gwyn Ashton – Mojosoul
Label: Fab Tone Records
Release date: 10 April, 2023
(Only released in Australia in 2022)
Gwyn Ashton announces mojosoul, the 10th album of his career, celebrating 50 years of playing guitar
The UK-based musician, former Virgin Records France artist and South Australian Music Hall of Fame inductee has toured in over 30 countries. He’s a storyteller who shifts from the personal to the acerbic and belatedly to the introspective, while his acoustic guitar playing is his best ever, illuminating the light and shade of his songs.
“This is my most personal album so far,” says Ashton. “It’s a song-driven, partly autobiographical album with occasional social commentary that has always been part of the best blues songs down the years.”
He’s at his most succinct and personal on the autobiographical “The Ballad of Gwyn Ashton”: “At 12 years old I shared my bed with my new friend, my fingers bled, I never quit, I just kept playing hard.”
Armed with a 1930 National steel guitar, a Martin acoustic, three 12-string acoustic guitars and an old 60s electric Harmony H-75 for the only electric track on the album, Ashton provides the perfect accompaniment to well-crafted songs occasionally beefed up by his foot percussion including kick, snare, hi hats, tambourine, and blues harp.
mojosoul is Gwyn Ashton’s versatile take on the blues, a musical journey that stretches the genre from acoustic folk to ragtime, swampy supercharged boogie and delta blues.
No note is wasted and each tone provides subtle counterpoint to his brusque blues vocal. He surprises us with the evocative “Yesterday’s Me (Cool, Cool Water)”, one of two Gary Allen co-writes on the album. Inspired by former Rolling Stone Mick Taylor with whom he toured, much like the closing “The Perfect Day To Sing The Blues”, it’s full of feel and delicate restraint.
Ashton is at his best on “12,000 Miles From Home”, a very catchy boogie about touring through the Australian bush fires, straight into the 2020 pandemic, locking him down in South Australia for an extended stay. He switches to a pulsating rhythm amplified by his acerbic lyrics on the political “No More” and then explores a funky feel to match Garry Allen’s withering lyrics on the second co-write, “Take Your Medication”.
Wisely, Ashton doesn’t preach but persuasively draws on his own life experiences to paint a believable narrative.
The Son House-inspired “By Your Side” illustrates the way he uses traditional gospel and blues influences in a contemporary setting on an aspirational song. He’s expansive on “Vanish Into Thin Air” and glances at his riff-driven past on acoustic 12-string track “Allergic To Love”.
This 10-song set offers plenty of contrast, subtle dynamics and, as his label name suggests, plenty of sumptuous tone to fill his mojosoul canvas.
01. By Your Side
02. Vanish Into Thin Air
03. No More
04. Take Your Medication
05. Allergic To Love
06. Yesterday’s Me (Cool,CoolWater)
07. The Blues Should Take A Holiday
08. The Ballad of GwynAshton
09. 12,000 Miles From Home
10. The Perfect Day To Sing The Blues