painting without canvasHis latest album might have more guests than an open bar at the Playboy Mansion but there’s a consistency to the music that Peter Blast makes on “Painting Without Canvas” that makes it a worthwhile trip.

Blast is a Chicago native, onetime associate of Johnny Thunders and Stiv Bators and one of the first people to bring punk rock to the garish glow of the Las Vegas Strip, but he charts a path for the heart of Americana on this one, while never shaking off his Stonesy roots.

In short, “Painting Without Canvas” is like a dinner where Blast’s guests-of-honour are Keef, Gram Parsons and Nicki Sudden.

Blast’s co-conspirators include sidemen for Ian McLagan, Canned Heat, Badfinger, Brian Wilson and Tom Waits. It’s an impressive casting call but Blast’s wiry vocal is the glue that binds this disparate music.

“Painting…” is an understated record and maybe it’s the one Johnny Thunders would have made when he headed off to New Orleans in search of new bandmates. The Dollsy raunch apparent in other Blast music is often toned down in favour of polished moments like the delicate “Old Cold Hill”, the lilting “I Don’t Drink, I Don’t Smoke, But I Lie” and and the assured country rocker “It’s Better To Have Lost and Loved”.

Not many would have tackled “Paint It Black” and fewer would have pulled it off like Blast does. His version doesn’t stray far from the original but adds enough grease to stand on its own two feet.

Slide guitar predominates. Pedal steel, violin and mandolin peek through many of the songs. And then the murky swamp-blues of “I Am The One” reminds you where rock and roll’s roots first took a grip.

“Painting Without Canvas” is a soulful record that lives up to its title; Peter Blast’s writing is lyrical and his vision broad enough not to limit him to staying within the familiar frames. If that sounds like your sort of journey then jump right in. Immersion will do you good.


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