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    Tags: Aynsley_Lister, Eyes_wide_open, Sarah_OHara

    Review: 'Eyes wide open' - Aynsley Lister

    How do I describe Eyes wide open? Well let me start by saying that it is an exemplary piece of musicianship. Award-winning guitarist Aynsley Lister doesn’t just play the music; he breathes it into life through every note and in every word. Along with a stellar team of accompanying musicians (Amadeo - Bass, Dryden - Drums and Holland - Keys), Eyes wide open is the blues-rock album you need to hear.

     

    It’s refreshing to hear an album that isn’t afraid of being itself. Eyes wide open doesn’t feel the need to emulate what’s come before or the sounds of today’s music scenes. Instead, it’s openly honest lyrics and blues rock riffs have you cranking your stereos to the max, pressing the repeat button and wanting more. I haven’t heard an album of this quality in a while now and it’s genuinely giving me thrills.

     

    The thrills are in abundance, more so from those epic guitar solos that run throughout the album. Lister sets the atmosphere as the notes bend and wail from the guitar. Even before the lyrics take hold, the guitar has told you the story of the song. Take for instance the cinematic landscapes of ‘Il Grande Mafioso’ - the reverberation on the guitar riffs builds a climatic tension, embroiling the listener in a gripping plot line. Combined with Lister’s deep and rasping vocals, the landscape unfolds in front of your eyes. Surely that’s the beauty of music? To be able to take a melody, harness its energy and deliver an emotional impact on its listener. A sure favourite of mine from the start, ‘Il Grande Mafioso’ knows how to keep you hooked to the last note with the guitar fading to piano - like a cinematic epic fading to the credits.

     

    The cinematic feel runs throughout Eyes wide open. The climbing bass that opens ‘All of your love’ gets the pulse pumping, while the seductive blues of ‘Dishevelled’ is tantalisingly satisfying, as the jazz keys and closing ‘mmms’ that croon from Lister paint a story of passion and desire. Then there’s the swing of ‘Everything I have to give’. Combining a swing meets blues-rock vibe, the mix of genres has your hips shaking. By the time the brass section enters, you’re totally enthralled in the sound, the song, the vibe. 

     

     

    It’s easy to hear why Lister has been nominated a songwriter of the year. Equal in skill to greats like Jimmy Page, there’s no doubting Lister’s musicianship, not only as a guitarist but as a songwriter. The emotionally charged lyrics are relatable and as a listener, you can find at least one song you identify with. The warming ‘Other part of me’ combines quirky metaphors with that euphoric feeling of love, while the optimism of 'Time' reflects on the importance of making every minute count. Through each song, Lister is able to capture the throes and scenarios of life in just one album. He’s a poet as much as he’s a musician.

     

    There’s no doubting that Eyes wide open is one of the best, if not the best, album of 2016. It’s a sensational slice of blues rock that’s tantalising to the ears and soothing to the soul. Don’t just take my word for it though; definitely take a listen to this album, because once you’ve heard it, you’ll want to listen to it again and again.

     

    5 stars

    Eyes wide open by Aynsley Lister is released on 7th October 2016.  

    By Sarah O' Hara

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