Whether you play a right-handed guitar like most everyone else, or turn it upside down and play it lefty style, if you play like Eric Gales and anyone else with a similar tic, it doesn’t seem to matter. Gales is a rock and blues guitarist as good as they come. And his 14th album, a Cleopatra Records release entitled Good for Sumthin’, is another demonstration of just how good he is.
In a September interview for Blues Blast Magazine, Gales talked about his music and the new album a month prior to its release: “I play the blues, but I also jump borders and boundaries. Every track on the new album is like that, too. It jumps around, but at the same time, it also fits into one package, which is the way that I play the guitar. I’m not the kind of artist that wants to be boxed in by one style or one genre of music. That would be a terrible feeling.”
If he has been compared most notably with the great Jimi Hendrix, he is clearly not interested in simply copying the master. Gales is an artist looking to take what the masters have done and build on it. Good for Sumthin’ is the result. He is looking to “make it to the top of the mountain,” and as he sings in the album’s penultimate tune, it’s going to be a “Steep Climb.” Luckily he continues on the road up, and the new album is ultimately the documentation of that climb—really a documentation from the top.
The disc includes a dozen tunes, all original compositions with an autobiographical feel except for one cover, the Rolling Stones’ “Miss You.” The set runs the gamut from blues and funk to psychedelic rock, truly “jumping borders and boundaries.” Gales takes listeners along as he pushes himself and his instrument up the mountain.
Produced by Raphael Saadiq, Gales’ guitar and vocals are supported by Joel Thomas Whitley on bass, Lamar Carter on drums, and Dylan on keys and organ. Saadiq does background vocals and plays bass on “Miss You” and backing vocals on “Show Me How.” Eric’s wife, LaDonna Gales sings background on “Six Deep” and “Tonight (I’m Leaving).” Guest guitarist Zakk Wylde plays on “Steep Climb,” and the stellar Eric Johnson guests on the album closer, “E2 (Note for Note).”
I don’t know if others hearing what Eric Gales can do playing the guitar unconventionally might be tempted to follow in his footsteps and screw themselves up. Listening to his work, it clearly doesn’t seem to have hurt him.