JEFF WESTLAKE (Hydrogyn) – In The Key Of Blue (2017)
JEFF WESTLAKE is best known as the founder, guitarist and songwriter for Hydrogyn, a band that has been making noise on the hard rock scene for many years now and most currently with their last 2017 release (featured in this blog). Westlake forever being a musician that loves to break into new territory, has taken his guitar playing and songwriting into the world of classic, heavy blues rock. This journey has resulted in an amazing debut titled “In The Key Of Blue.”
From hard rock & metal influences, a new player in this genre has entering into the arena with both fists swinging. The result, a high powered knockout of an album that delivers the best of Gary Moore, Dave Meniketti (Y&T), Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Richie Kotzen, ZZ Top, etc.
The album opens with “Midnight Whisper” which gives off the Stevie Ray vibe right from the start. Westlake takes his guitar playing to another level and shows a precision and feel that just oozes thru every single note.
More of the same swagger appear with track 2 “Heart To Burn” which has a more aggressive vocal and a harder touch with some good ole ZZ Top on it.
The basis of any song is what comes from the heart of the artist, and Westlake has laid down a a little blues masterpiece in “So Much Love To Give”. The song encompasses elements of Dave Meniketti and Gary Moore: lots of feeling and guitar playing that is just outright mesmerizing. From the opening riff to the volume swells at the end, you’ll enjoy this one over and over.
There is just an abundance of styles in this album and “Who Gets Vodooed” delivers a heavier sound and more powerful presence of ’80s Gary Moore. Jeff’s influences are noticeable, but he defines his style and makes every song his own.
The songwriting is very diverse and “Love Your Way” gives me the Santana vibe and an eerie feeling blues ballad that just projects style, passion and presence. A beautiful piano intro and Westlake delivering a powerful vocal right from the start
With the next cut, title track “In The Key Of Blue,” I get more of that classic rock feel with a touch of keyboard accompanying more of the 6 string excellence that is prominent throughout, in the vein of Richie Kotzen solo.
The power and aggression kicks back in with “Whats In The Fire” which is a flat-out power jam, a song to be enjoyed with the volume control being cranked on.
The disc keeps in powers in “Queen Of Sorrow”, with a driving harmonica and a crunchy guitar riff. This is a true foot tapper with a massive groove and powerful vocal. I also get an Aerosmith type energy here, with the Steven Tyler wails and the heavy distortion grinding behind the vocal; more of the diversity and style that burns hot in the core of this album.
Did I mention influneces? Well, “Mountain” is aptly titled as I hear a ton of Leslie West in this one. Groove based and heavy is Westlake’s hard rockin’ fortay and he delivers it with a bluesy foundation. Massive distortion and guitar playing bliss is where this reaches and is a fitting way to end a glorious ride through the keyhole and opening the door to one fantastic blues rock album.
So often in music the artists are only recognized for a certain style of music or playing. We often never get a chance to see or hear the styles that influence them and empower them to write their music.
Jeff Westlake has shown us that in every Hard Rock song that he has written, there is another side. The other side of an artist that is impassioned is delivered from the heart here.
If you love guitar playing, then the table is set and the key that opens an incredible blues rock album is right here “In The Key Of Blue.”
1 – Midnight Whisper
2 – Heart To Burn
3 – So Much Love To Give
4 – Who Gets Voodooed
5 – Love Your Way
6 – In The Key Of Blue
7 – What’s In The Fire
8 – Queen Of Sorrow
9 – Mountain
Jeff Westlake: vocals, guitars
rest of personnel unlisted
BUY IT !