Canadian musician, Philip Sayce, known for his brand of powerhouse blues, has been busy touring across Canada this month, commemorating the launch of his fourth upcoming solo album, Influence, which will be released in Canada April 7, 2015 through Warner Music Canada. His powerful performance at Ottawa’s Rainbow Bistro, left the crowd awestruck. Sayce played a selection of songs from his new album, as well as some standout pieces from his earlier work. His honed style through his experience, influences, and effort were evident in the music which jumped out with a passionate force, chiselled through a variety of classic and modern flavours and textures.

“Powerful Thing”, from his first solo album, Peace Machine (2005), was a sonic wall of funk/blues that instantly blew the roof off the packed house. Along with his blistering guitar riffs, Sayce’s very Kravitz-like vocals illuminated the music with straight-from-the-gut soul power. Completing the picture, were renowned musicians, Jimmy Paxson on drums, and bassist Joel Gottschalk, both whose masterful skills and intensity brought every tune into immenseness.

Sayce thanked the crowd, and introduced his new CD, before the band delved into the Ten Years After classic, “I’d Love To Change The World”, the first single/video to be launched from the album, and one of two bonus tracks exclusive to the Canadian release. I loved the more rocked up feel, the more pronounced rhythm, and incredible guitar work where he channelled off into pure psychedelia. Another from the album, the blues classic, “Blues Ain’t Nothin’ But A Good Woman On Your Mind”, was laced with the unmistakable untamed style reminiscent of the late, great, Jeff Healey, whom Sayce cut his first touring teeth with for a few years. “Out Of My Mind”, an original, was undoubtedly in tribute to legendary Jimi Hendrix, with its similar pace of “Let Me Stand Next To Your Fire”. I loved its vibrant intensity, and especially Sayce’s strong and sexy vocals.

Philip Sayce
Philip Sayce

“Aberystwyth” (Steamroller – 2012), a very textured instrumental piece named after the Welsh coastal town where he was born, was a slow, smouldering blues number, heavy with influences of Robert Cray and Jeff Beck. There were nuances that ranged from sultry tones, beautiful bending notes, and tender sustains, into a blaze of heaviness that brought the audience to a swell of generous applause…one of my favourite performances of the night. Another from the same album, “Beautiful”, offered substantial contrast with its steady funky flavour.

During the encore, Sayce played his rendition of Canned Heat’s, “On The Road Again”, featured on the new album. At one point, while the bass and drums held down the rhythm, Sayce zoned out into a feverish solo, then brought it down to a minimal level…an amazing contrast of tones and textures. Finally, the band capped off the night with a full out jam, which travelled through freight train proportions into a very funky segment of The Rolling Stones classic, “Miss You”, then finally amplified into a high energy finale, complete with bass/drums going full tilt, and a mess of broken guitar strings by the end.

Philip Sayce‘s outstanding ability to convey his unbridled passions through his well-rounded and open style of playing, shows what an old soul he truly is. “Influence”, is not only a tribute to some of Sayce’s guitar mentors, but also tells a story of the journey of healing from the perils of the music industry.

“It’s been a refreshing experience… I’m extremely fortunate to have worked with some of the best people/musicians in the business. With this album, I want to make sure the music resonates and inspires people to do what they love. It’s important to make room in your life to just be free.”

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