Reviews...

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Guitar Techniques (August 2010) – Tower Sessions

UK guitar man Aynsley Lister’s recent crossover into blues-meets-well-written-rock-song territory has been well received by press and public alike. He began a 45 date tour of Europe towards the end of last year and reports indicate that at the finishing line the man and his band had gone way past top gear and entered the turbo zone in terms of performance level. If you’re kicking yourself for missing it, then compensation of a sort comes in the form of this new live CD which was recorded during the final stages at Winchester’s Tower in January 2010. Opting for a live ‘greatest hits’ package, Aynsley and his band blast through a set of audience favourites including a stunning rendering of Prince’s anthemic Purple Rain The decision to add keyboard player Dan healey proves to be an excellent one as the overall sound of the band has never been better. We particularly enjoyed the cover of Hendrix’s Crosstown traffic, complete with ripping Strat solo – nice! Rating: 4 Stars

 

Maverick (August 2010) – Tower Sessions

This album captures the tightness and feeling of the band’s live sound.

Recorded at The Tower, Winchester in January 2010 after a 45 date European tour, this is a great album by ace blues-rock guitarist Aynsley Lister and his fine band consisting of Midus on bass guitar, Simon Small on drums and new guy Dan Healey on keyboards.

Although it is a live set it was actually recorded without an audience, but that ’end of tour’ feel is evident and the band are very tight musically. All band memenrs are exscellent on the instrumental Quiet Boy! and there are some storming guitar solos on Hurricane. Aswell as being a brilliant guitarist Aynsley is also a fine singer and songwriter, writing all but two of the songs, the two covers being Jimi Hendrix’s Crosstown Traffic and Prince’s Purple Rain. Vocally good on What’s it all about Aynsley again produces the goods with a tremendous guitar solo. Great album from one of my top ten favourite guitarists. Rating 4/5


Equilibrium

Aynsley Lister is the blues man with the ‘boy-next-door’ looks, the dextrous guitar fingers and the silky voice; the one that plays contemporary blues as if its the most natural and most commercial thing you can do. Lister brings a new lightness, fresh optimism to an old form with his wonderfully intelligent take on the blues.
Lister is possibly the most universally commercially viable of all the bluesmen out there; his music flirts with the darker side of indie-rock but is anchored firmly and securely in the heart of the blues. Lister has a lightness of feel, a new and expansive energy that will appeal to the younger listener still just toying with the form, Lister’s a new-age bluesman methinks!

Lister’s expansive but still rooted music rocks and motivates as much as it moves and impassions; Lister’s blues is blues with a modern twist – all the guitar virtuosity you could ask for, all the bitter-sweet reality that’s needed and all stereotypical nuances of the form wrapped up in compositional modernity and futuristic thinking. Blues for the modern ‘man’ perhaps!

With Lister’s blistering guitar playing comes a voice that’s as welcoming as it is embittered; Lister writes songs that are superbly suited to the modern era but still have the true essence of blues philosophy of hard times, struggle and uncertainty at their heart. ‘Equilibrium’ then, showcases Aynsley Lister’s penchant for musical acceptability by way of his visionary adaptations and slick commercial ideas – yes it’s blues but, it’s blues with new direction, new open-ness, new accessibility. Lister makes blues available to and viable for the non-believer and blues sceptic.

‘Equilibrium’ by Aynsley Lister is a bright and forward-looking work of nu-blues for the common ‘man’; if you like guitar driven modernistic blues then ‘Equilibrium’ by Aynsley Lister will provide you with everything you crave for; punchy rockin’ riffs aplenty, succinct and gritty solos of immense power and passionate eloquence, hooky melodies and meaningful words. ‘Equilibrium’ by Aynsley Lister is a wonderfully genuine journey through the more commercial side of blues music – it’s superbly crafted, stunningly executed and quite simply a fantastic album by the new ‘face’ of the blues!

Peter J Brown – aka toxic pete http://www.toxicpete.co.uk


Guitarist - April 09 - Equilibrium

The recent release from Simon McBride illustrated that the so-called grassroots of British blues is not only alive and well. but in accomplished hands: there’s no better time for Aynsley Lister to have produced the best album of his career, The likes of Soul and Running On Empty wouldn’t be out of place on radio, while the ‘Blues Police’ will have their palates cleansed by the far more traditional Big Sleep, whose acoustic intro is soon dislodged by a huge riff. Lister’s vocals seem more controlled, while his playing­ similarly restrained – is yet another bar at which the rest of us should aim, Oh, and if Superficial doesn’t get you waving a lighter in the air, you’re reading the wrong magazine. [SB]
Standout tracks: Soul.
Running On Empty,
Superficial
For fans of: Simon McBride,
John Mayer,Joe Bonamassa
4.5/5 stars


Rock & Reel magazine - Equilibrium

Very much the poster boy for the nu-blues generation, Aynsley Lister returns with his sixth studio album – and a new label. Although rooted in r’n’b, Equilibrium sees Lister in a rich creative vein, pushing the envelope to produce an album brimming with commercially flavoured pop rock.

It’s a brave move within a surprisingly insular scene and, by and large, Lister succeeds while his uncompromising use of lead riffing, bringing to mind the work of Eric Clapton, serves to enhance the overall sound.

Opener ‘Soul’ is the kind of instantly catchy, radio-friendly fare that could yet render him a major name. His songwriting skills have long been acknowledged and his vocal performances now match these in fine style. Lister’s smart enough to throw in a surprising cover and make it his own, in this instance a stomping, slide-and-acoustic blues reworking of Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy’.

Lister’s too creative and inventive to be straitjacketed by genres, of course, and Equilibrium proves that in addition to possessing the talent to crank out blues-rockers, he’s reaching a creative peak with his songwriting – on well-crafted compositions like ‘Superficial’ and ‘Early Morning Dew’.

4/5 Stars

Steve Caseman

 

AYNSLEY LISTER ‘Equlibrium’ Manhattan Records (2009)

UK guitarist who effortlessly mixes some superb pop rock moments like ‘Soul’ with some down and dirty blues numbers like ‘Running Out On Me’. ‘Running On Empty’ would have bands like Matchbox 20 wishing they had written it, a massively catchy chorus that would be massive in the US given decent airplay. For an unusual cover grab a listen to ‘Crazy’, a big hit for Gnarls Barkley and given a slower, acoustic version on here. It sounds as though it shouldn’t work but it does. ‘Superfical’ is one of those mellow moments that few blues artists (as good as ‘Richmond’ by Joe Bonamassa) can pull off but Lister can and does. Listen out for the heartfelt guitar solo which ends the song beautifully.

What a great album mixing blues rock, mainstream rock and varied guitar playing (John Mayer’s guitarist Robbie McIntosh appears throughout the album as well) to keep even the most ardent blues fan in rapture.

4.5/5 stars
Jason Ritchie


NET RHYTHMS - Aynsley Lister - Equilibrium (Manhaton Records)

After listening to Equilibrium it’s little wonder that Classic Rock bracketed English blues/rock musician alongside the likes of Joe Bonamassa and Jonny Lang as an outstanding blues/rock guitarist.

There is no doubt that Lister is one of those naturally exciting talents that come along once in a blues moon. But more than the God-given talent, it’s the balance that he strikes between stunning guitar pyrotechnics, a soulful voice that has just enough of an edge and a collection of original songs that mark him out as a musician with a glittering future. Equilibrium delivers the complete package, a thrilling and engaging mix of blues and rock.

It doesn’t take too long for the influence of Eric Clapton to raise its illustrious head, the layers of voice and guitar owe much to old ‘Slowhand’. However you could just as easily namecheck Stevie Ray Vaughn for ‘rockers’ like Sugar Low, it’s not the influence but what you do with it that really matters and Lister isn’t bound by the ghosts of the past, instead he taps into their passion and belief.

While the ‘influences’ on it may be from an earlier generation, Equilibrium is fresh and vital, the foundations of What’s It All about may be as old as time itself but there’s nothing tired or jaded, Lister brings a true believer’s energy to his music.
As if to ram the point home, he takes Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy apart and adds a blast of white-hot blues, the result is imaginative, inspired and almost unrecognizable. It’s the work of a musician with a unique ear.

However, Lister does leave himself open by the inclusion of a track called Running On Empty, there was an initial disappointment on learning that it was not a reworking of the Jackson Browne classic but any doubts were swiftly washed away by the hypnotic, bouncing and infectious alternative. Lister has found his crowd favourite.

It would also appear that Lister himself drew strength from the track because as good as Equilibrium was before it, afterwards everything moves up a notch or two, Superficial is provoking and sparse and yet has the impact of a thunderbolt.
But Aynsley Lister is a born rock ‘n’ roller and it would be a shame if he didn’t give his guitar skills free rein. The holy trinity of tracks that close the album provide the perfect showcase. Running Out On Me, Sugar Low and Hurricane are sweat-soaked, full-blooded, razor-edged blues rock, classic in style and execution and no better way to sign off.

Michael Mee February 2009


Get Ready to Rock - Equilibrium

The aptly titled “Equilibrium” finds fiery guitarist Aynsley Lister breaking new ground bringing a surprisingly well honed pop rock sensibility to bear on some characteristic guitar rushes; Where in the past Aynsley has carved out his rock blues niche with an open ended ability to explore various contemporary strands, on “Equilibrium” he’s taken a quantum jump towards nailing down his own style which at times turns out to be as accessible and radio friendly as it remains fiercely independent.

Long time fans will revel in the guitar driven “Soul” – which has real possibilities as a single – and the crunching Robin Trower style riffs of “Time’s Up”. They might similarly be drawn to the power shuffle “Running Out On Me”, but it’s the wider possibilities of numbers like “What’s It All About”, a number that drags Coldplay towards a rockier edge and the equally radio friendly “Running on Empty” that might just grab Aysley a bigger slice of commercial reward.
In between the well thought out arrangements, and intuitive produced songs there are still enough vibrant musical moments to remind you that Aynsley is still a cutting edge musician.

Perhaps the lyrics of the slide led “Superficial” offer a clue as to his musical intent. So when Aynsley sings “why is the world superficial when we’re all so different but we’re all the same beneath”, instead of analysing the words just hit the play again button and marvel at his new found stylistic coherence.

“Equilibrium” rocks and charms by turns. It’s a well crafted piece of work striking a crucial balance between meticulous pre-production and the spark of the moment. In short a superb album in the old fashioned sense of the word.
Pete Feenstra
(5/5)

Advance review for http://www.getreadytorock.com


Classic Rock Magazine (UK)

Guitar Clinics, a monthly column in ‘Guitarist Magazine’, albums that wow their fans but get no radio play or media coverage, a lifetime of pub gigs… While Americans like John Mayer get US Top 10 albums, ‘Rolling Stone’ front covers and supermodel girlfriends, today’s British blues rock guitar heroes are destined to walk a less glamorous path. Most of them deserve it – Aynsley Lister is one of the few who could rise above it. He’s got the chops, the looks and the songs – his one drawback could be his name (It’s either cool or Coronation Street: either way you wouldn’t want it on a T-shirt).

‘Upside Down’ is bursting with killer riffs and songs that could easily reach a massive audience, given a Kevin Shirley production, some decent marketing and a lucky break. Will someone please throw some money at this dude? 7/10 Stars

 

Guitarist Magazine (UK)

Young bluesman turns singer songwriter and comes up with a gem

His fourth studio album, and the first to consist entirely of self penned songs, if there was any justice in the world this should put Aynsley right up in the premier league. From the opening fierce punchy riff of ‘Find My Way Home’ through to ‘Falling Down’, a song reminiscent of the now defunct Arc Angels – the pace rarely slackens: even his acoustic offering ‘Beautiful’ would give a certain Mr Blunt a run for his money. Aynsley’s guitar has never sounded better and while the radio friendly ‘Ice I’m Upon’ and the lurching shuffle of ‘With Me Tonight’ are all familiar ground, this is a great album

4/5 stars

Julian Piper


getreadytorock.com

‘Upside Down’ is Aynsley Lister’s first solo album since his successful ‘Pilgimage/Blues Caravan’ collaboration, and his first with his new band.. It is therefore pleasing to report that this is easily his best ever album.

We always knew Aynsley to be a top notch guitar slinger but he has brought a new found song-writing sensibility to bear on some classy melodic rock. Of course he’s had his moments before with such gems as ‘Angel ‘O’ Mine’, but this album takes him up to a new level.

Unsurprisingly, Aynsley has shifted the focus slightly away from rocking blues to a more AOR approach of yore but at the same time he displays a new maturity in his song writing. Thus while the straight to the vein rocker ‘Find My Way Home’, along with the slide led, powerhouse feel of ‘In the Morning’ and the pounding rhythmic pattern of the title track confirm the qualities we already new about, there’s a new confident undercurrent that branches out in new directions.

Rock Blues fans will undoubtedly lap up the brace of outstanding, guitar led shuffles, most notably ‘With Me Tonight’ – which employs a David Grissom style Texas feel – and the monster undertow that drives ‘Disorderly Me’, but there’s some real light and shade here and a good use of dynamics.thoroughout the set.

Even the acoustic efforts, rather than being a brief respite from some serious riffing, dig deep both in terms of emotional content and lyrical expression. The suitable titled ‘Beautiful’ is a lovely ode to his daughter while on ‘Rain’ Aynsley brings real presence to the fore. And in a market dominated by a million notes offering all too few moments of real insight and meaning, Aynsley Lister has stepped up to the plate with an excellent album that is full of effortless playing and first class production values. He works up some melodic grooves, delivers several catchy hooks, and uncovers moments of real feel. The whole thing is driven by some killer licks that provide the fuel for a very impressive album which might just unlock some deserved Stateside radio airplay.

 

Review by Pete Feenstra
www.toxicpete.co.uk

Hey, British blues rock is doin’ just fine. When you come across something as tasty as Aynsley Lister’s ‘Upsidedown’ you feel comfortable once again in the knowledge that the blues is alive and rockin’. And, not only the British contingent but world blues, blues in general is once again cool and acceptable and thankfully, still has a place in our hearts and minds. Quite right too!!

Part of the resurgence has been made possible by the ‘youngsters’ of the genre – people like Aynsley Lister. Hard working, persistent and aggressively prolific writers and players – skilful and wise ‘young’ blues monsters that have been knockin’ on the door now for what seems like an eternity.

At last, Aynsley Lister is reaping the rewards of his toils and ‘Upsidedown’ is a great work that richly deserves success. Contemporary blues the like of which us ‘Brits’ haven’t really had since the days of John Mayall and his numerous spin-offs and influences. Yes, ‘Upsidedown’ shows that you don’t necessarily have to be old and down-trodden to write and sing the blues. Likewise, you don’t have to be American. Ok, you need passion, you need understanding and you need dedication. But, as the ever-rotating wheel of musical acceptance slowly moves it’s bound to settle once again somewhere need Aynsley Lister’s place. And for me, it’s a welcome return to a genre that’s been misunderstood and often mis-represented. Lister doesn’t do that 60’s style British blues – his is more sensitive to the ears of modern muso’s – his appeals to a new generation of blues freaks. A generation that’s needy and looking for musical inspiration – something that rocks their boat as well as being sympathetic to the modern way. Aynsley Lister fits the bill nicely with his gentle but heartfelt and soul searching blues way. Lister seems to have found just the formula required with ‘Upsidedown’; rockin’ blues with a modern edge – tangible blues, acceptable blues, but still blues through and through.

With his gentle approach Lister never tries to ram his blues down your throat. Subtlety is the key here. Subtlety backed by stunning guitar work, sensitive vocals and damn fine writing. ‘Upsidedown’ is right on track – right on time. As the music world is once again waking up to the call of the blues, ‘Upsidedown’ from Aynsley Lister is set to be at the forefront of the realisation that the ‘blues’ is just not gonna go away – it may get re-modelled – it may undergo changes – but, the blues, in one form or another, is here to stay – and so is Aynsley Lister.

‘Upsidedown’ is simply superb in every way!


Modern Guitars Magazine - Jan 2007

Review of the re-released ‘Everything I Need’ by Brian Holland


MOJO - ALL OR NOTHING

There’s no young English blues guitarist with more vivid musical ideas than Lister… with this album, mostly electric and entirely electrifying, Lister challenges anyone to keep up with him… His guitar playing on tracks like ‘Say Goodbye’ or ‘Balls Of Steel’ is a fire hazard! 4/5 stars


GUITAR TECHNIQUES -  ALL OR NOTHING

Chances are you’re either gonna love or hate Aynsley Lister. Love him because he’s a fine lyricist with more than just the blues under his belt… or hate him because of his age. Here we love him… even when he’s exploring more subtle territory as on the acoustic ‘Without Wings’, guitar and voice are in perfect unison… Best Bit? Make sure you don’t miss the hidden track at the end for pure unplugged genius. Album Of The Month, 4 Stars.


ROCK SOCIETY -  ALL OR NOTHING

From the opening salvo of driving heavy blues rock on ‘Say Goodbye’, there is barely any let up in the music… an album of staggeringly powerful rock… its not as blues based as you might expect… the best album I’ve heard so far this year and I can’t see this slipping out of my top ten come December… Superb!

 

MOJO -  SUPAKEV N PILCHARDS

A stylish and swaggering collection of 21st century blues… Exchanging the security of his band for a stripped back acoustic live album, Lister is spurred on and thrashes his guitar and rhythmic bass drum with all the vigour and belief of a crusading envangelist.

 

ROCK SOCIETY -  SUPAKEV N PILCHARDS

A warts’n’all, unedited live performance of raw in yer face blues… vocally he’s accomplished but his guitar techniquue is quite extraordinary, simultaniously playing bass and lead licks and maintaining a high evel of intensity throughout. This may be stripped to the bone but its all the better for it and if you can’t catch him live then this really is the next best thing. Magnificent music.

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