Deja Blues is an interesting collection of blues tunes that features the blues skills of the talented rock and surf style guitarist Gary Hoey. Most people know him as an instrumental guitar player along the lines of a Steve Vai or Joe Satriani because of his billboard hit “Hocus Pocus,” or possibly know him from his Ho Ho Hoey Christmas albums, or have seen trading licks on tour with Jeff Beck, Ted Nugent, Peter Frampton, and Dick Dale. Let’s set the record straight – Gary is not a one trick rock guitar shredder.
The album has many Gary Hoey originals, some of which feature great guest appearances, including James Montgomery on “Boot Hill Blues,” Jon Butcher on the Texas Shuffle “Almost Over You,” Johnny A on “She’s Walking,” and finally, Frank Hannon on the southern rocking “Got to Believe.” There are a couple of covers of traditional blues songs where Gary makes the blues rock. “Going Down” is a down, dirty rockin’ take on the Don Nix penned classic recorded by everyone from the late great Freddie King to Led Zeppelin and Pearl Jam. Along with that is the lightly distorted Albert King classic “Born Under A Bad Sign.” An interesting track at the end is “Hold Your Head Up High” which features some slide guitar playing. If you close your eyes and forget who you’re listening to you might confuse this with an outtake form a Derek Trucks Band release.
There are two stand out tracks on this album though. “Stranger” is an atmospheric mysterious blues where the tones clearly set the mood for one of the lyrics when Gary sings about being “like a stranger in my own town.” The best work on here though is when Gary lets his guitar do all the work on the instrumental slow blues title track – “Deja Blues.” The tension builds and reaches what you think is the peak at each chorus only to be taken to another level with another solo and then finally releases you back to the original slow blues jam.
If you’re looking for an album that straddles that fine line of blues and rock without turning into nothing but a guitar shredders excuse to solo than this fits the bill. It’s always interesting to see how artists who are mostly known for a different style of playing interpret the blues. Deja Blues does the blues justice with his pyrotechnic fretboard fluidity and ability to blend them with his rock background without losing the feeling and intent. (by bluesrockreview.com)
Gary Hoey (guitar, vocals, bass, keyboards)
Matt Scurfield (drums)
Johnny A. (guitar, slide-guitar on 05.)
Jon Butcher (guitar on 03.)
Frank Hannon (slide-guitar on 08.)
James Montgomery (harmonica on 01.)
01. Boss You Around (Hoey) 3.08
02. Boot Mill Blues /Hoey) 3.00
03. Almost Over You (Hoey) 4.44
04. Going Down (Nix) 3.40
05 She’s Walking (Hoey) 3.26
06. Stranger (Hoey) 4.22
07. Born Under A Bad Sign (Jones/Bell) 3.59
08. Got To Believe (Hoey) 3.40
09. Deja Blues (Hoey) 4.22
10. Hold Your Head Up High (Hoey) 4.17