Joey Landreth: Singer, Songwriter & Bluesman
Over the past couple of months I’ve made a real effort to listen to more modern music. I’ve found myself in the trap of listening to my favourite musicians on repeat and doing little to broaden my musical horizons.
Given that the contemporary blues scene is alive and well, I thought it was time for a change. So I’ve gone on the hunt to find the best modern blues musicians, and listen to as much of their music as possible.
This was how I found Joey Landreth.
About a month ago I was scrolling through Instagram when I stumbled across Landreth. I hadn’t heard of him before, but spotted that he had a gig in London the following week.
I jumped straight onto Spotify and after hearing only a couple of songs, bought tickets for the gig. It was lucky I did, because it sold out shortly afterwards.
It was one of the best shows that I’ve been to recently and Landreth has since become a staple part of my modern blues playlist. If you too are looking to shake up your daily music, then I would urge you to listen to Landreth. This is for 3 main reasons:
Joey Landreth has the Blues Feel
Joey Landreth incorporates the blues perfectly into his style. By no stretch of the imagination is Landreth a strict Bluesman. His music is diverse and is influenced by a broad range of genres, including country, jazz and folk. But he is adept at creating that ‘blues feeling’. He sparingly throws in licks and solos that convey a real sense of emotion and capture the spirit of the blues. But he does this within songs that have a complex structure and use complicated chords. To combine soulful blues guitar playing with songs that are not otherwise bluesy is a rarity. It makes for interesting listening, especially if you’re a fan of modern blues and fusion guitarists.
Joey Landreth is a Showman
Music should be played live. When blues and rock music exploded in the 1960s, playing live shows was how bands became famous. In the early 1960s, new records came out relatively infrequently. They were sometimes expensive and often tricky for the average enthusiast to purchase. The radio played very little rock and blues music and there were no music streaming services. Having these services freely available to us now is amazing, but I can’t help but think that we place less emphasis on live performance.
So to see Joey Landreth’s masterful live performance was refreshing. He and his band (made up of Roman Clarke and Megan Dolovich) were extremely well drilled and very tight together. They also provided an experience that you can’t get from listening to the album. There were extended solos, jams and a few songs that Landreth performed totally unaccompanied.
Joey Landreth Plays Slide Guitar
Joey Landreth plays slide guitar, and is one of very few modern players to do so. I am a huge fan of slide guitar playing. Using a slide allows you to play the micro tones between notes, as well as slide up to and down from notes. This opens up a whole range of tonal possibilities. When executed skilfully, slide guitar playing takes on a vocal quality. It’s a very expressive form of guitar playing and one that is perfect for the blues. Yet despite this – and possibly because it is so difficult to master – very few blues guitarists have played slide. Joey Landreth includes slide playing in most of his songs and it is a key part of his sound. It gives his music a real bluesy feel and makes for brilliant listening.
Joey Landreth – The Top 5 Songs
Landreth has only been performing solo since 2017. Prior to that, he performed with The Bros. Landreth alongside his brother and Ariel Posen, a fellow slide guitarist. When I saw Landreth live he played a mix of songs. Predominantly his set was material from his solo album, but he also included songs from The Bros. Landreth, as well as some new material not yet recorded. If you have the chance to go and see him play live on his current ‘Forgiveness Tour’, then you should. I couldn’t recommend it enough. But if you want to have a listen first, here are my favourite Joey Landreth songs to help get you started:
This is my favourite song from Landreth’s solo album ‘Whiskey’. The slow acoustic track builds up to a lengthy distortion laden slide guitar solo. It showcases not only the skill that Joey Landreth has with a bottleneck, but also his ability to compose an intense and impactful guitar solo.
This is one of the poppier songs that Joey Landreth has to offer, but you can’t help but tap your foot. The riff is super catchy, and there’s a brief slide guitar solo thrown in for good measure. This showcases Landreth’s restrained approach. The guitar solos are there to serve the song and are never gratuitous.
In my opinion, Joey Landreth is at his best when he blends country music with the blues. The melody, accompaniment and vocal arrangement of this song have a distinctly country feel. The fuzz laden guitar solo and slide licks add the blues feel. The resulting combination is one reminiscent of some of the softer material of country rock bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Allman Brothers Band and the Eagles.
This song features two guitar solos; one from Joey Landreth and the other from Ariel Posen, the second guitarist in the band. Both guitar solos showcase how proper spacing between notes and pacing can enhance your playing.
A lot of modern blues guitarists favour speed, which definitely has its place. But when fast pentatonic licks lack imagination, they start to get boring. The solos from Landreth and Posen show that the right notes played with feeling are hard to beat.
Another song that illustrates the ability Joey Landreth has to combine different genres. Here the Bros. Landreth shift away from country and move closr towards soul. Despite the laid back vibe and vocal arrangement, the song features a fuzz laden slide solo from Landreth, and a second guitar solo from Posen.
If you are a blues purist, you will struggle with Joey Landreth. His music is a blend of diverse styles and at times it verges on pop. But at the centre of Landreth’s style is his blues feel. It is a key part of his sound.
So whether you’re looking for something new to add to your playlist, or for fresh musical ideas and inspiration; Joey Landreth is your man!
Check him out here:
Who are your favourite modern blues guitarists? Let me know in the comments!