After Stevie Ray Vaughan’s death in 1990, an army of Strat cats rushed into the breach, vying to be the next blues god. One of the first through was Chris Duarte, who understood the value of not overplaying while adding enough habanero to keep it spicy. Thirty years later, Duarte is back with an album of loud-and-live blues-rock, weaving his Texas twang with modern touches like funky loops (“Come My Way”).
“Bye Bye Bye” touches on ’50s rock and roll, with slap-echo flavors and double-stops. “Can Opener” is SRV-city, while “Gimme Your Love” has expert string strangling and tone to die for. “Half As Good As Two” is a master class in Lone State blues, deploying plenty of heat without overselling it. Two more reasons Chris’ music is so effective are his vocal and clever lyric delivery – beyond the hot licks, storytelling is a big part of the package. Witness the songcraft of “Look What U Made Me Do,” reminiscent of another Texas guitar ace, Steve Miller.
In short, Duarte is cookin’ better than ever. Ain’t Giving Up will be shortlisted for the best blues-guitar album of 2023.
This article originally appeared in VG’s May 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.