Keep On Turning
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Guitar players are often excited for blues guitar albums, but to non-playing music fans, they can be tedious. Lots of soloing. Often not-great singing. It can all feel like being trapped in the Ten Years After Woodstock performance of "I'm Going Home." Blues rock singer-guitarist Seth Rosenbloom avoids this trap on Keep On Turning, an imperfect album with flashes of a tremendous future.
Rosenbloom hails from Waltham, Massachusetts, where he eventually attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music, becoming a sideman and guitar teacher. His debut EP came out in September 2017 and Keep On Turning is his first LP.
Rosenbloom's career as a sideman looms large over the album. He's a fantastic, tasteful player with a huge tone that will catch the ears of non-guitar geeks. But the rhythm guitar and even the vocals, to a lesser extent, are pushed down in the mix a bit. It's almost like he's still trying to keep out of the limelight when, of course, he should be commanding it.
But even with these imperfections, Rosenbloom provides glimpses of his potential as a singer/blues guitarist who has appeal beyond the Guitar Center set.
For one thing, there's his voice, which is blues-flecked with some smoke, while also displaying a certain smoothness. I'm not sure how old Rosenbloom is, and if he has some kind of fantastic skin regimen, but based upon his album photo, he has the voice of a much older, more seasoned blues singer. It's used to best effect on the title track, which is a slow blues that spotlights his voice and his guitar playing. Rosenbloom’s guitar work is warm, exciting, and emotional, as it is across every track, without sounding like he's ripping through scales.
In general, Rosenbloom's voice seems better suited for the slower tracks. The laidback nature of his voice doesn't always connect with the faster, more rock-oriented numbers. He's at his best when the groove is relaxed enough to match his voice. "Come Back Around," with its leisurely funk groove, is a great pairing for his voice.
Rosenbloom also shows solid songwriting on the album, writing or co-writing six of the nine tracks. He also successfully covers B.B. King's "Heartbreaker," nailing not just King's vibrato, which is as sharp as broken glass, but even adapting a King-inspired horn section. It's a great track.
However, his cover of Elmore James' "Look Over Yonder Wall" is less successful. Rosenbloom uses James' lyrics, but doesn't use the iconic James riff, which this rabid James fan found, if not unforgivable, at least incredibly disappointing.
Keep On Turning is so close to greatness that the missteps seem to jump out a bit more, like a nick in stained glass. Rosenbloom has the potential to appeal to a wide audience—not just blues lovers but rock lovers. His debut LP has some growing pains but his talent is enticingly apparent.
As he figures out how to work with his voice, he'll easily create memorable, contemporary-sounding blues numbers. The guitar playing is there. The songwriting is there. Rosenbloom needs a tiny bit more comfort as a front-person, and he'll be a blues force to be reckoned with. The windows into that future provided by Keep On Turning make it a genuinely exciting album worth hearing.
Notable tracks: "Keep On Turning" | "Heartbreaker" | "I Can't Help It"