The Blues Against Youth is a new name to me and As The Tide Gets High And Low came as a very pleasant diversion. It’s the sixth album by Italian singer/songwriter Gianni Tbay. I’m not sure whether the name or the acronym came first or even if Tbay is his real name. Given that the notes on his website were written by someone claiming to be called Salmon Roastbeef Jr, I’m inclined to doubt it – but no matter. Tbay plays the blues in a stripped down, primitive one-man-band style but there is more to him than that.
The album title comes from the opening track, ‘Refugee’, an energetic slide guitar song. As you listen you realise that the title is no metaphor but an exploration of the plight of refugees and how the world “voted for security” to bring us to this position. ‘Goin’ To Chicago’ is similarly uptempo and, in the absence of any information to the contrary, I’m guessing it’s about the mass migration of African-Americans to cities after World War II using the vernacular music they brought with them; music that became Chicago blues.
‘Slanted Path’ is based on a hard driving guitar part and I’m not totally sure what it’s about but it leads into the bottleneck-driven ‘I’d Rather Hide Deep In The Backwoods’ and I feel that there’s a thematic link between them. In fact, travelling either to somewhere or away from somewhere else is a continual theme across the album hence the narrative of ‘Goin’ To East Texas’. Sadly things don’t work out there and the singer winds up heading back to Illinois. The song is topped and tailed with humorous announcements from a Greyhound driver.
‘Particle Filter Blues’ is what counts as a production number on this album and there is a touch of the Captain in the thumping rhythm of ‘Blue Muse’ underpinning Tbay’s growling vocals. ‘Devil’s Train’ brings a hint of country to As The Tide Gets High And Low with just acoustic guitar and no slide or bottleneck decoration and ‘Say Something’ is relatively pure blues. There is another production number to close the album in the shape of the nine minute ‘Oblivion’ which ends in hypnotic guitar and wordless vocals.
There is a prominent female voice, more than just backing, in the shape of Margherita Patrignani with Joost Dijkema on bass, Meek Hokum on guitar and saw and Simone Pozzi on drums. The album was mixed by Guglielmo Nodari, who also plays organ and upright bass. With. For what is essentially a loose style of music, the band is remarkably tight. I had to prise some of this information out of the system as The Blues Against Youth seems to make a thing of being enigmatic but this is a really nice album.
Artist’s website: www.thebluesagainstyouth.com
‘Particle Filter Blues’: