With a stripped down sound, plenty of energy and loads of raw talent, that’s Scotland’s Homesick Aldo. David Marren takes a closer look at the new voice of British blues.
Imagine a lone drifter stowed away on a freight train travelling the route of Highway 61 absorbing the works of Jack Kerouac and Hunter. S. Thomson wrapped up in the blues. Eventually emerging with impeccable rock and roll insouciance channelled via Johnny Thunders and John Cooper Clarke and combining the licks of Sonny Boy Williamson, Jimmy Reed and Muddy Waters, accompanied only by a harmonica and primal drumbeat, so stripped back that even the White Stripes appear grandiose, then you get some insight into the force of nature which creates the musicality and myth that is Homesick Aldo.
A new kind of star for a 21st century which has thus far wrapped itself up in technological turgidity where so much music has lost not only its integrity and raw emotion but also its driving forces and beliefs.
Aldo, on the other hand takes elements of the past and his own selected musical heritage, hurling them into a musical time machine, effortlessly streaming the zeitgeist of our current climate by introducing authenticity and rawness back to a medium which languishes in hype and X Crement Factor cheesiness evolving into our first authentic millennial self titled bluesician.
A sound both ageless and timeless; seemingly from either a hundred years ago or a hundred years into the future but most importantly very much of its own moment proving – if proof were needed – that the blues are a style that never goes out of fashion. Beyond being yet another artist merely adopting the pose of the trendy unplugged ethos as, despite the basic instrumentation, his act crackles with an urgent, vibrant vitality fuelled by electricity.
His raw, innovative solo live show – a lone harmonica, an errant kazoo, an occasional singular drum all topped off with wailing bluesy vocals are his only arsenal – is an antidote to the overly rehearsed, moribund dullness of mainstream live shows with artists merely going through the motions and he instead concentrates on capturing the audience’s attention; demanding their souls whilst stealing their hearts and devotion in the process.
A live act like no other on the circuit at the moment and everywhere he plays even the sceptical and non believers have inevitably found themselves drawn into this maelstrom of a musical hybrid emerging from this singular young man. The songs are freeform interpretations of blues classics mixed with original compositions all stirred along with familiar reference points – a New York Dolls steal here or a Stones or Dylan reference there – but with a fresh approach which renders them unique.
Audiences are important to Aldo and this also sets him apart. Far from expecting them to sit in awe at his exceptional talents he actively encourages their participation. Thus the dancing, clapping and banging on a tambourine which have occurred at live shows I have witnessed are immediately hastily incorporated into his act ensuring that it goes off into yet another dimension staving off any predictability or complacency from either himself or his loyal converts.
Currently in the studio recording an independent two track single to be released in the spring and whilst the A side will be a garage rock stormer the B-Side will be more of a showcase of his live stage act. Wary of drawing other musicians into the mix he has thus far shied away from this but recognises it is something he may have to consider if he is to extend his musical palette and reach a bigger audience.
For the moment though he is perfectly happy to stand a lone wolf and from the reactions he is eliciting everywhere he plays he is right to stick to his guns playing the music he loves so fervently. With live gigs lined up for early spring – mainly in his native Scotland but also including an appearance at the London’s legendary 100 Club – this may be the last chance to see him in such venues and with such low key billing as his star is in the ascendant and a showcase evening in Edinburgh is being arranged for the spring featuring several upcoming Scottish bands but centring on him. Homesick Aldo 2013 could be yours for the taking.
Upcoming Gigs include Nice N Sleazy in Glasgow on March 23rd and London 100 Club on the 13th April. A single is being recorded and should be available later in the spring. Portrait by Gavin Evans who has also worked with David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Joe Strummer and a host of others. His website with full details of his rock and film start portraits can be found here. A film by Evans called The Audition featuring 35 A List stars is also showing at Summerhall Gallery, Edinburgh 10am-6pm daily until the 18th of May.