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Hot on the heels of the 2015 album release The Outsider, the full-length documentary Island Bound, and an extensive tour schedule, Isle of Man-born Davy Knowles announces his new album Three Miles From Avalon. This collection of new songs sees Davy returning to his roots, and the sounds that first ignited his passion for music.
Recorded exclusively in his adopted hometown of Chicago, the capital of electric blues provided Knowles with a landscape steeped in legend, inspiring him to creatively explore the genre of music he's always loved – energetic, guitar driven blues-rock.
Knowles began the recording process for Three Miles From Avalon with a fresh approach, one that has resulted in a dynamic, gutsy sound: "I wanted to go back to the basics. The band and myself have racked up a lot of playing time together, and we have really started to gel. I wanted to capture that 'live' feel in the studio
This led naturally to a back-to-basics approach, and a search for authenticity when it came to recording the new material: "My favourite sounding records are certainly older ones, recorded to tape, with minimal fuss or overdubs. I wanted that lovely warm, vintage sound that only tape and glowing tubes can do."
A raw, vintage sound is evident in the album's opening two tracks, the hard-driving Ain't Much Of Nothing, and a long-time live favourite, What You're Made Of, a homage to one of Davy's musical heroes: "Rory Gallagher has been a huge influence for me, his energy and drive was so mesmerising. I wanted to get back to that high energy, big guitar riff style of writing."
Falling Apart, the album's third track, adds dark drama to the record's driving pace with its smoky verses and heavy, snarling, blues riff. "I've had this song kicking around for a long time, but it wasn't until I had found this guitar pedal called 'The Octron' (one of only two pedals used by Knowles on the entire album) that the song and the riff really came to life, it's got this wonderful menacing sound."
Weaving a moment of pathos into the tracklist is Oxford MS – a fictional account of shady dealing and violence. Storytelling has always been a vital ingredient in Knowles' work: "Songs with characters and stories have always grabbed me, and I wanted to write one in the blues and gospel vein, it's a story of blackmail, gambling and regret, though certainly not an autobiographical one!"
Yet it's the title track, Three Miles From Avalon, which brings to the fore very personal aspects to a tale. "The song is really all about being slightly further away than where you want to be, and the frustration that comes with that. Avalon is this Arthurian legend, the Island that could never be found. It became my metaphor for things just out of my grasp.
The song also reveals the musical influences close to Davy's heart, showcasing his love of blues and classic rock with affection
The album closes on a hat tip to one of the all-time greats, Willie Dixon, with a re-working of his blues classic What In The World. Performed with a live, 'after hours' feel, the track showcases Knowles' confident and distinctive guitar playing, but also a powerful solo on the Hammond B3 by Andrew Toombs – demonstrating that Knowles and his tight-knit band all possess not only stunning technical ability, but soul too.
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