Doug Prescott - Blues in the Key of Sea

Doug Prescott is a jack of many musical trades. Usually, that phrase is followed by, 'but master of none.' However, it would be a disservice to suggest Prescott is not a true musical master, however, because almost any style he touches, he gets right.

Blues in the Key of Sea is Prescott's third solo album. Its title song refers to fishing -- in distinctly musical terms. This one is a blues track that sings the bad luck fishing blues. And the blues is Prescott's base style, if you will, as many of these tracks reference various blues elements. Both "99% won't do" and "Million Ways," for instance, lean much closer to soul music than the blues. Of course, blues and soul are also extremely close relatives, so to suggest they're different is to actually say they're only slightly varied. Both of these tracks feature honking horn sections, with "Million Ways" even sporting a saxophone solo. "Million Ways" is also one track that nicely utilizes one of this album's special guests, Little Feat's Billy Payne, on organ. Payne is also heard playing Yamaha grand piano in various spots as well.

One of this album's strangest cuts is "Purple Heart in a Crown Vic." It finds Prescott singing with a sandpaper-y, Mark Knopfler-esque voice. Its lyric describes a guy that earned a Purple Heart in an American war, and also did all the right things by raising a good family. Now, he's presumably taking some time for himself, which Prescott describes as "cool." However, it's difficult to empathize with this man's apparent selfishness. Is it even possible to earn selfishness? Has he completely or temporarily abandoned his family? If so, that's not cool at all. Prescott never makes that entirely clear. Even so, it leaves one feeling more than a little uneasy.

While it's true blues is like a river that runs in and through most of what Prescott has given us with Blues in the Key of Sea, the track "Little O Dat" rides atop an acoustic guitar groove that, while also spiced with Payne's organ, chugs along to a groove not all that different from the Allman Brothers' "Ramblin' Man," particularly the electric guitar solo toward the end that has all the earmarks of a Duane Allman individual instrumental flight. "Hell," on the other hand, borrows more from bluegrass than just about anything else. "Don't Let Our Love Go" is even more of a stylistic stretch, as it has a tropical/reggae vibe driving it.

Prescott reaches back again for Knopler vocals with "Smooth Sailin' Day," which is an upbeat rocker that expresses the joys of an easygoing, no stress day. While Payne pounds the piano, honky tonk style, Prescott sings like it's a Saturday that (hopefully) may not ever end.

While Doug Prescott touches upon a wide variety of genres with his Blues in the Key of Sea album, the one common descriptor denominator for the most part is party music. Even when he's singing about fairly serious stuff, Prescott still sounds like the kind of guy that likes to give his audience a good time. Therefore, you'll likely walk away feeling pretty good after listening to this album even if you listened to it inside the boat, out on the lake, on a day when you didn't catch any fish.

Doug Prescott - Blues in the Key of Sea

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