These Wheels, Papa George’s latest album, is positively album of the year material. As an artist who is known for solid albums and incredible performances, it is no surprise that he would churn out such an amazing project. From start to finish, I could not get enough of this album.
The album begins with plenty of attitude. The album opener, which is also the title track, is classic Papa George. And so the album starts off strong with the heavy, highway anthem that is the title track. It sounds like the soundtrack to all the bad decisions you don’t regret making. It also sounds like Papa George infused this song with his own blood, sweat, and tears. Lyrics about heading out on the highway, a beat to usher him along, and plenty of guitar licks to accentuate the journey, it is all here on this track.
Track four is another strong one. It feels like it was ripped straight out of the dive bar playbook. I can practically hear the beer bottles smashing in the background. The chorus is so catchy that it took me by surprise. Overall, probably my favorite song on the album. The Jimi Hendrix/Stevie Ray Vaughan-esque ‘Late In The Evening’ is another stellar track. It is just as lively, while taking it slower than most of the other songs. His guitar work is unmistakable and soulful.
Another highlight is ‘Blackjack.’ It has a steady rhythm and flavourful guitar riffage. I swear some of my favorite songs are about card games or gambling. Blues players don’t seem to joke around about cards because the music they write about it is always incredible. This song further proves that point. There isn’t a whole lot in the music industry that holds my attention for a very long time. So many projects come and go, but there aren’t a whole lot of them that have enough character to hold my attention for extended periods of time. One huge exception is Papa George. He has never disappointed me as all of his work has that ‘it’ factor. These Wheels is the title of his new project and what a project it is.
I would be kidding myself if I said any song was better than the other on this record. They are all connected by one thing: Papa George’s guitar skills. He infuses each track with his signature style and that is what truly makes each song so much fun to listen to. I expect nothing less from a blues legend. I have been steadily hitting repeat on this album with no sign of letting up. This record has real staying power to it and you would be shorting yourself if you didn’t give it a listen (or two, or three…)