David Ralston is a blues guitarist and vocalist who has traveled the highways and byways of America for over a decade. His eighth studio album, I Don’t Care, was released several months ago and finds him continuing to explore a blues/rock fusion sound. Maybe it was his stint as a substance abuse counselor for the Marine Corps, but his music and lyrics have a toughness to them. He may not be a bad man, but his style is in your face and you can take it or leave it.
He has put together a fine band to support his slide, acoustic, and electric guitar playing. Drummer Mark Texiera, keyboardist Bruce Bears, bassist Jesse Williams, and guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist/producer Thom Hiller lay down a foundation, which allows him to improvise.
His sound is very hard-edged blues, which comes close to straight rock every once in a while. The title introduces the theme of the album and the lyrics explore this not caring attiude. The keyboards provide the filler, which allows him to use them as a jumping off place. As with many good blues guitarists, he is able to make each note distinctive.
I tend to prefer his slow-blues songs such as “How Do I Stop the Pain” and “Today’s Got Me Down.” They are more of a classic blues approach as the guitar and vocals play off of one another. The title song and “GDSOB” find him in full attack mode as he pushes his sound toward a rock format. “Laugh to Keep from Crying” has a jam like feel. He even gets a little funky with “The Johnny Cash Song.”
The lyrics are honest and soul-bearing, which are the key to any blues album. He has a fine voice to present the thoughts and stories and it meshes well with the overall direction of his music.
David Ralston is eight albums into his career and continues to evolve. I Don’t Care is a fine blues album that deserves a listen or two.
Article first published as Music Review: David Ralston – I Don’t Care on Blogcritics.