In the Meantime
Review by John Taylor
Take enough roads and you’ll probably end up cursing a wrong turn or two, hitting some dead ends and doing some backtracking.
Ask Alex Maryol. He’s been there.
And the Santa Fe-based Maryol lets us ride shotgun as his eighth album, In the Meantime, revisits Mississippi, Chicago and Texas, mixing smooth guitars and raucous rhythms into a sound that’s all his own. The music is authentic and the lyrics don’t hold back.
Apparently, we can thank a little studio meltdown for that.
According to Maryol’s website, he and his engineer, Tim Stroh (who’s worked with the likes of Dwight Yoakam and Robbie Robertson) got into it on the first day of recording at Stroh’s new studio, Mad House Recorders in Leadville, Colorado.
Fortunately, they smoothed things over quickly. But the blowup seemed to free everyone up to stop being polite and bring their raw feelings to the table. It was good timing for Maryol, who’s just turning 40 and says that after years of soul-searching, he’s ready for some genuine, warts-and-all creativity. He calls In the Meantime “both a rebirth and a return.”
“It is a new era for me,” he says. “I feel like I am free to be myself, and express a deeper level of sincerity. It feels like the time to get back to a raw, from-the-gut approach to my music.”
The result of all this honesty and creativity? An album that’s being hailed as Maryol’s best yet – a breakthrough, maybe.
The 11-song work has echoes of the unvarnished, gutsy blues he cut his teeth on as a teenager in Santa Fe, and which defined much of his earlier music.
Dating back to the 1990s, Maryol has opened for names like Etta James, G. Love and Special Sauce, Bo Diddley Bonnie Raitt, Lyle Lovett, Leon Russell, Corey Harris, Blues Traveler and Otis Taylor. And it sounds like he’s learned a lot from his experiences.
In the Meantime ranges from rockers like “Telluride” to “Hey Now Baby,” which Stevie Ray Vaughn himself would envy. Some sleek guitar work snakes its way through true-blue numbers like the title cut as well as “All Night,” “Rain Been Coming Down” and the reprise of “Love Is What We are Made for.”
The diverse sounds mark Maryol as a bluesman who’s come into his own. He’s equally adept at wading into soggy Delta blues or muscling out some classic Chicago-style riffs.
Throughout In the Meantime, though, he’s true to his own story. Each song reflects his personal take on modern blues and the roads he’s taken to get here. He’s picked up a few nicks and a scar or two along the way. But he’s earned some swagger.
With this one, he’s also earned some bona fide blues credentials that should put him on the map.
Total Time: 48:50
Love Is What We are Made for / All Night / Rain Been Coming Down / Made in Santa Fe / In the Meantime / Love Is What We are Made for – Reprise / Worry / Telluride / Hey Now Baby / Feeling Good / Where the River Flows