Chris Duarte – Ain’t Giving Up


With a heavy beat shuffle and a tonally echoed revved-up guitar, squeaking and a squonking before coming on like a raucous runaway train, Chris Duarte declares he’s got ‘Nobody But You’ and we’re not sure if that’s a good thing as he follows it with the Hendrix-goes-garage-rock blues guitar of ‘Big Fight’ wailing out over a deeply funky rhythm, a song wherein he believes the woman in question to be “untrue” as he caught her “dancing last night”. For the record, the implication this is a one-off war-of-words as he tells her to pack up her things and go, and with the Everly Brothers’ rockabilly-roll of ‘Bye, Bye, Bye’ we can’t but fail to the picture.

This here’s Texan blues-roots guitarist/singer Chris Duarte’s 15th studio album, Ain’t Giving Up, that apparently sees him teaming up for the first time in 22 years with producer-guitarist Dennis Herring, begging the question: why the hell haven’t I heard of the guy before?

Recorded live on the studio floor with vintage gear and minimal overdubs, as the wild and muscular instrumental ‘Can Opener’ so admirably demonstrates. Working the power trio format, but with some additional tape loops, ‘Gimme Your Love’ grinds down on some blues rock, changing his tune lyrically, singing out: “Be nice your woman, be nice to your man” with other such niceties before the punchline: “while you can!”, the guitar cranking out psycho-fusion like in solo. Rootsy R ‘n B hammers with oddly haunting appeal on ‘Come My Way’ that cries out crossover potential to several youth market demographics that’d probably turned their noses up before giving it a listen.

Half As Good As Two’ is 12 bar Chicago blues for when you’re all loved-up after one-too-many lunchtime brews. ‘Lies Lies Lies’ sees him again in an Everly Brothers frame-of-mind, as if performed by Dr. Feelgood. A little slower ‘Ain’t Giving Up On Us’ cranks out with noisy drum brushwork, and long guitar excursions between verses. ‘Look What U Made Me Do’ is a sweeter rock ‘n roller you could easily mistake for Dave Edmunds, so all-in-all, post-pub rock freaks may well want to check out Duarte’s back catalogue, not least because the one-take solos that wield their way through Ain’t Giving Up are often akin to a Wildman of Borneo’s take on Edmunds’ ‘Sabre Dance’ from back when he was in Love Sculpture, before most of us were born.

That stated, ‘The Real Low Down’ brings back the funk, contagiously, and then we’re out here with final number where fluid lines ooze out during the introduction to ‘Weak Days’, that owes a debt to the classic ‘Stormy Monday Blues’ with the notable exception that there’s no going to church on a Sunday, not least because one’s nursing a hangover – At seven minutes slow blues rarely work for me, but the in-the-pocket varied guitar work keeps me smiling.

This is a wonderful noise. Raw, off-the-cuff, up-close and feeling personal, with good spirited humour and attitude.

Track list:

  1. Nobody But You
  2. Big Fight
  3. Bye, Bye, Bye
  4. Can Opener
  5. Gimme Your Love
  6. Come My Way
  7. Half As Good As Two
  8. Lies Lies Lies
  9. Ain’t Giving Up On Us
  10. Look What U Made Me Do
  11. The Real Low Down
  12. Weak Days