A track like ‘Dark Hearted Woman’ surprisingly (at least to those who have not heard Dan before) successfully combines singer/ guitarist/ bandleader Dan’s abilities in soul, blues-rock and blues balladry into a coherent whole. Elsewhere he turns in convincing soul music in its own right – try ‘Second Hand Man’, with its full horns, doo-wop styled backing singers, and excellent vocal, or the Otis Redding flavoured ‘I Will Take Care Of You’ for good examples – and blues-rock pure and (not so) simple with the likes of the heavy riffing ‘Vagabond’ or the strong rocking boogie of ‘Memphis Murder Blues’, with lovely controlled slide guitar outbursts, the kind of thing that still occasionally gets called “blue collar blues”. The set closes with ‘The Struggle Is Real’, a funky acoustic intro leading into a heavy rocker with a work-song base.

The talented Mr. Bubien works in a trio format throughout this album, with several guests on horns, keyboards or bass, but the sound is much fuller than that implies. Dan was born in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania and writes all his own songs, with six of the album’s ten tracks composed in collaboration with Pittsburgh songwriter Roman Marocco. This is his first album since 2013’s acclaimed “Empty Roads”, and it has been worth the wait – blues and soul based, but richly varied from track to track, and all are memorable.

Norman Darwen