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East Side SlimBy East Side Slim

Guy Forsyth – Love Songs: For & AgainstGuy Forsyth – Love Songs: For & Against

{Small and Nimble Records, 2005}

Guy Forsyth grew up in KC but has been a denizen of Austin, TX for the past couple of decades. He’s a true renaissance man musically, and is very difficult to pigeon-hole. He was a co-founder of the Asylum Street Spankers, has released adrenaline-fueled rock ‘n’ roll records, and is probably best classified as a singer-songwriter with very deep rootsy/bluesy musical roots. Guy’s music is eclectic – in the best sense of the word. He’s also a multi-instrumentalist, being a fantastic slide guitar and harmonica player, and also playing guitar, baritone guitar, ukulele, and saw (yes, musical saw.) There are messages in the lyrics of most of Guy’s songs, or if not outright messages, then deeper meanings of life as he sees it playing out around him.

The Songs:

1) Long Long Time – there’s a definite autobiographical element to this song, which becomes a modern-day morality tale of our (the so-called Western industrialized culture) excesses and greed. That said, the song manages to leave behind a sense of the possibilities of change – for the betterment of us all and for the world around us. Shoot, the song rocks, too.

2) Beautiful Mistake – the song has a nice melody, and features Guy more in the singer-songwriter mode. Don’t take that to mean he’s being whiney, as that’s not the case at all. This tune is a love song, one with the meaning differing depending on who is listening. It also features some very nice harmonica work by Guy.

3) Brand New Day – This is a poppier song, and is very pleasant. It’s an uplifting tune, likely purposefully placed in front of a couple of the following tunes that tend toward darker themes.

4) Mamma’s Favorite – this is one of the darker songs on this album, especially lyrically. It’s set to a Latin-like groove, so as you’re contemplating the lyrics your head is bobbing along and your feet are tapping. That’s not an easy trick to pull off, but Guy succeeds well here.

5) On My Own – Guy slows it way down with this track. It’s sparse instrumentally, featuring a world-weary vocal track.

6) Heart-Shaped Hole – This is one of Guy’s story songs. It starts slowly, sparsely, and builds in intensity as the song plays out – but not through sheer volume of wall-of-sound techniques. You can feel the industrial themes of the song in the percussion and guitar effects used on the track. This is a very strong track.

7) Rise Up – this is a rockin’ protest song, and one of the oldest tunes on the album (written in 1999.) Call to arms anyone?!

8) Take Advantage – listen closely to this track, as it might not be about what you think at first listen. It’s a love song of sorts, one written to “America”, as a country, describing Guy’s sorrow at the directions he sees our (America/Americans) values heading.

9) Patient’s Blues – this tune continues directly off of “Take Advantage” without a break. It’s a more personal take, from one man’s point-of-view, on the state of the country (and/or the state of his own life as well.) As mentioned earlier, there’s no whiney singer-songwriter pap going on here. The song has depth and guts, which both serve to enhance the lyrics.

10) 105 – This is my favorite song on the album. Listen to the lyric closely on this song. Eminent Domain used for the greed of corporate America…that hits pretty close to home for a lot of us, and should anger us all. Guy’s angry about it for sure, and has produced a great song describing its abuses and aftermath, especially if we as citizens don’t stand up and take our country back from the corrupt businessmen and corrupt politicians currently calling the shots. Did I mention that this song rocks? It does.

11) So Hard – this is a nice little rockin’ track. It starts slowly and builds up as it goes along, with more musical elements being added as the tune plays out. Guitar fans should like this track, especially fans of tasty slide guitar playing.

12) When It All Come Down – this is probably the darkest tune on the record. It records how Guy would like to go out when the Super Powers of the world finally lose their cool and Armageddon – more specifically The Rapture - is unleashed. Yep, that’s pretty dark, yet the song (musically) is quite pretty.

13) Shake It In A Circular Motion – this short track, in the mode of the Asylum Street Spankers hot jazz stylings, may sound like a throwaway track at first glance but it’s really not. After all the deeper, darker content of some of the earlier tracks (especially “When It All Comes Down”) I think Guy wanted to leave the listener on a more optimistic, happier note. This one makes you feel good, so get on up and shake it, baby! Shake it in a circle!!

The Verdict:
This is by no means a straight “blues” record, but if you listen to it with an open mind you may very well be well rewarded for the time you spend listening to it. Guy Forsyth is one of America’s musical troubadours, who just happens to have a strong desire to make this country a better place for all us. That’s always a noble cause in my book. Even with all the heavy lyrical content, Guy has put together a very musical album that sounds great. In fact, it sounds better with every listen. I’m giving this a 4.0 on the Blue-O-Meter scale. I’d rate it higher if it was “bluesier”, but it’s a wonderful piece of work that Mr. Forsyth should be very proud of.

Lee 'East Side Slim' Howland
The STLBluesometer

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