New York blues/Americana singer and songwriter Phil Gammage (lead vocals, guitars, keyboards, harmonica) released in October 2016 a 10-track album titled Used Man for Sale. He gets help on the release from Kevin Tooley (drums), Frank DiNunzio III (bass, backing vocals), Johnny Young (piano, keyboards), and Michele Butler (backing vocals).
The most striking thing about this release is the uncanny resemblance at times of Gammage’s vocals with those of Elvis Presley. That isn’t to say though that he is a King of Rock and Roll impersonator; Gammage has a style that is his own. He does however deliver a set that can be considered safe which listeners looking for mainstream, straightforward familiar sounds will most appreciate. Each song is carefully crafted, be it melodically or lyrically. The musicianship is also spotless, with various instruments given the spotlight in one track or another.
Some of the tracks immediately bring to mind a smoke-filled lounge. “Arms of a Kind Woman” is a blues track with a strong country flavour featuring an ear-catching harmonica solo and emotive vocals. These can particularly be appreciated at the three-quarter mark, when all the instruments take a step back and let the vocals take the spotlight. It is a toe-tapping, engaging, and relaxing number that radiates world-wary hopefulness. “I Beg of You” is all blues through and through, the slow, throbbing, bass-led number making the Elvis-like vocals quite a nostalgic experience for his fans.
Gammage also sounds like Elvis on the ballad “Maybe Tomorrow”. The piano in this song has a bit of a western bar feel to it. The same type of piano can be heard in “Used Man for Sale” and “Feeling the Hurt”. In the former, the piano contrasts with the intense bass; the vocals however flit between light and intense. In the latter, the rest of the instrumentation gives it an overall light feel; despite the title, it is a hopeful and optimistic song.
The slow and chugging “Ride with Railroad Bill” is an intense blues-infused rock number. Gammage’s vocals go from almost spoken during the melody to all out belting during the chorus. It comes as quite a contrast to two uptempo and quite cheerful numbers, “Tenderloin” and “Lost in Loserville”, with the latter featuring a particularly noteworthy harmonica and harmonies.