CD Review: Alvin Lee: Still on the Road to Freedom (Rainman, 2012)
It’s been five years since Alvin Lee’s last album, Saguitar, but it’s been nearly forty years since he shucked off the arena-level fame of Ten Years After and recorded 1973’s country-rock On the Road to Freedom with Mylon LeFevre, George Harrison, Steve Winwood and others. His latest collects songs written and recorded over a four-year period, mixing rock, blues, rockabilly, folk and country. Lee still sings well, but it’s his guitar – both electric and acoustic – that will raise the hairs on the back of your neck. Whether he’s blistering through a hard-rocker, playing a shuffle or Bo Diddley beat, riffing on the blues, or fingerpicking folk-country, Lee’s playing shines in both rhythm and extended solos. Lee closes the album by revisiting “Love Like a Man” in a style that leans more to NRBQ than Ten Years After. A sweet acoustic bonus track is hidden at disc’s end, providing a restful capstone to an album full of energy.