There are a lot of mysteries in the music business, and one is why Shawn Pittman isn’t a star. He is a dazzling blues guitarist, a soulful vocalist, and a talented songwriter. He ranks with the better blues guitarists of the era; his timing and phrasing are superb as he uses spacing between notes to give his sound better clarity. As with many of the best guitarists, this ability seems to be intuitive rather than a learned one.
Pittman has now returned with his tenth studio album, Edge Of The World. He continues to be a one-man band in support of his guitar playing. He plays all the instruments except for saxophone and horn arrangements, which are in the capable hands of Jonathan Doyle. He also wrote or co-wrote 11 of the album’s 13 tracks.
Pittman was born in Oklahoma but has been associated with the Texas blues movement since the early 1990s. As a teenager he became attracted to the music of Jimmy Reed, Elmore James, and Albert King, and he hasn’t looked back since.
It is immediately apparent from the opening notes of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Sugar (Where’d You Get Your Sugar From)” that this is a blues album and nothing but a blues album. The guitar solos flow in and out of the melody as Pittman’s voice growls over the top. Next up is “Leavin’ Load,”, which is a shuffle blues boogie with a piano in the background and a honking sax.
“Scent of Your Benjamins” makes use of a rhythm section to provide a foundation for his guitar excursions. The saxophone runs counterpoint to the guitar, and Pittman’s use of a talking-blues style in places is inventive. “Almost Good” chugs along nicely while “That’s The Thing” offers up a welcome change of pace with its ever-building, slow-burning style.
Edge Of The Road is at heart a traditional, electric-blues album. Pittman has learned his craft well, demonstrating as much by playing various types and styles of blues that is energetic and creative, as well as sounding well-produced. He has been playing top-notch blues for a long time, and hopefully this release will bring him the fame and commercial success he so deserves.
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