March 1st 2016 | By Jonathan Pruett
Book of Changes
Under the name Entrance, Guy Blakeslee has performed a blasted type of psychedelic blues for the better part of the last fifteen years. Early on, he spun walls of effects against ripping leads while hooting and hollering like someone set Marc Bolan on fire. His music was an unpredictable mix of moaning, roaring guitars, and stripped-to-the-bone, pre-war blues standards.
Since signing to Thrill Jockey and releasing the Promises EP in 2016, though, he’s undergone a more concerted effort to deepen his songcraft. His voice—always remarkable with its intensity but often buried—is now pushed to the forefront, and the songs are concise, driven more by lyrics and accented by female harmonies, with a much vaster array of orchestration. Add to this the just-released, non-album single “Not Gonna Say Your Name,” which is an emotionally bare, lyrically upfront piece of angry protest folk about a certain elected official, and you have Blakeslee perfectly perched as an apocalyptic troubadour.
“Always the Right Time,” a West Coast folk-rock song in its immediacy and subtle vocal hook. “Summer’s Child” mines a similar vein: a sun-dappled slice of Donovan-meets-Cohen poetry that you could waltz to if you felt the need. “Molly” and its Spanish guitar intro, meanwhile, will likely remind a few record heads of Love’s Forever Changes.“Revolution Eyes” has moments of droning experimentalism as it draws the record to an end, but that’s the nearest he comes to the electric psych-rock of the past.
Which is fine. Blakeslee has never really been a wallflower when it comes to singing, but Book of Changes showcases his voice in a way that feels like it’s a new thing. Overall, the album is a welcome creative reawakening that’s lyrically stronger and more developed and heart-stirring than anything he’s done before.