Izzie’s Caravan – “Leo’s Guitar EP” – plenty of blistering guitar work!

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On the recording, “Leo’s Guitar EP”, Izzie’s Caravan and his guitar conspire to use every single crayon within the blue color box to deliver one of the best underground independent studio blues releases I’ve heard this year. Among others, Izzie takes his cue from greats such as Lightnin’ Hopkins, Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker, and Eric Clapton. So you can expect a wide and wholesome finger bending spectrum of sounds. The aforementioned guitar heroes are points of reference, not simple deductions for resemblance. The opening song, “Two’s In The Bush”, has a highway drive, and jangly timbre that’s upbeat and accessible. Izzie’s Caravan sucks you in from the first note and never, never, never lets you go. The song is built around a scuttle-buttin’ shuffle that lets you know from note one that you’re in for a real ride.

Some collective recordings need to be listened to several times to get the feel of the songs both musically and vocally before you can decide if you like them or not. That’s not the case with “Leo’s Guitar EP”. The reason is simple to understand. Izzie’s Caravan’s music is built around his love for the guitar – and especially the Fender of which his collection stands at 22.

Hence his tracks are void of the stargazing egoism and elements centered on his persona – it’s all about the music and the blues guitar. Izzie proves himself to be an understated guitar virtuoso without the general pretentiousness that can be associated with the instrument sometimes.

Izzie’s Caravan’s riffs, rhythms and solos are first rate and stimulating. And that much is totally event on the slower but more abrasive “Lightnins-A-Howlin”. He sounds relaxed and comfortable because he’s playing something he wanted to do on this record. There’s plenty of blistering guitar work to drop all of our jaws, but even Izzie’s vocals hold their own in the arrangement.

Though comprising only 4 songs, there is an excellent variety of sounds on this record and I do enjoy them all. If your head is not bobbing to the mid-tempo groove of “Dorian’s Lament”, then something is wrong. As already stated, Izzie has nothing to prove to anyone at this point.

He isn’t trying to break into the charts, or get his name up on headliners, so when he starts digging deep during the solo breaks, it really feels like he’s trying to take the listener with him to some musical destination. And if you have any affection for the blues, you’ll be happy you’re along for the ride.

On “Leo’s Guitar”, Izzie’s Caravan’s crunchy lead tones lay neatly over a rhythm that’s tied tightly to the big beat drums. I found myself coming back to this track over and over. In general “Leo’s Guitar EP” is still firmly rooted in the classic blues style as songs tend to go between heavier stomping tracks and mellower jams.

But with everything that is going on with this recording, Izzie is always in top form and never seems to be caught off guard. His guitar playing showcases a good mix of soulfulness and technicality while his vocals seem to fit just about every style that he puts in front of himself.

This is my first full dose of Izzie’s Caravan’s and I like what I hear. He presents strong songs while infusing them with his powerhouse Fender guitars. His soulful and mellifluous vocals also manage to hold your attention. Everything here is well crafted and performed. That, together with his guitar skills and the songwriting make for one fine listening experience.

Somehow Izzie reminds of the sadly departed JJ Cale. Not so much in the style of music, as in Cale’s approach to the art. Uncompromising and unpretentious, everything JJ Cale did was about the song and his craft, never about himself. I’m getting that very same vibe from Izzie’s Caravan.

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