Geoff Bartley,
Blues Beneath the Surface
(Swallowtail, 1994)

Blues Beneath the Surface is a nice easy listening collection of mainstream blues songs and new compositions that bring to the listener's mind pictures of lazy sunny evenings. The ratio of old and new music is just about right. The familiar old tunes balance very well with Geoff Bartley's own compositions.

The CD opens with a Ray Charles composition, "Hallelujah I Love Her So," which is very well performed and sets the tone of the album. Bartley also does a nice version of Chuck Berry's "Nadine," which is less frenetic than the original but works very well. "Bull Frogs on Your Mind" is a traditional piece with extra verses by Geoff Bartley, although I must admit it was completely new to me and I enjoyed it. The title alone will attract attention.

The self-penned tracks display Bartley as a very good writer. I particularly loved "The Language of Stones." It is more Americana than blues and has a very spiritual message. The spoken sections have a great poetic edge and paint a beautiful picture to the listener. "Up Here with the Moon" is another of his own pieces that plays very well with a nice simple arrangement, which does not clutter up the lyrics. The guitar piece in the middle uis a joy to hear -- nice, crisp, clear.

This CD is a revelation of yet another talented singer-songwriter who needs only that elusive "big break" to give the music world another top-class writer and performer.

[ by Nicky Rossiter ]
Rambles: 7 September 2002

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