Paul Gabriel's What's the Chance… appears on Duke Robillard's Shining Stone (/ Blue Duchess) label and has the Duke sitting in on most of the cuts, so need I write any further? Hell no…but will anyway. This disc is rock solid in the Robillard vein, sidling up to ya like a slinky floozy with whiskey on her breath and a very interesting proposal for the rest of the evening after the gig. It's that tight with the sound. Gabriel writes, sings, and plays guitar in a basic foursome augmented by a bunch of sit-ins, including a cat we don't hear enough from anymore: Mark Naftalin. He only catches two cuts here, but, man, it's always good to hear from the guy.
Devil's Daughter is one of those tracks with him in a slo-mo ballad. And it was this cut that informed me who Gabriel most sounds like when singing: Martin Mull. Yep, good ol' Martin. I was a bit puzzled until that cut and then it hit me. Gabriel and Mull are both quite the musicians, and with that same kinda cynical, mid-West, knowing grin to their voices. There are only two instrumentals here, and I sure wish there were more, 'cause Gabriel nails the modern N'Awleans sound in C.M.C. with pinpoint accuracy, knocking the dance hall out of Sea Level while putting the rhythm back on the bar stool.
Roomful of Blues starts out in an Elvin Bishopy mode leavened with a bit of Edgar Winter (Jerry LaCroix era) in a smoky number that begins to saunter out the pool hall door in the refrain, re-thinks the matter, then walks right back in again amid smoke, sweat, and low lights. Magic turns that completely around with an SRV intro by Steve Pastir dropping into a shuffle verging on a stomp. Fine At'tire is a duet, just Gabriel singing with Naftalin on piano, a cabaret track, a speakeasy ditty for pub crawlers in bow ties and moustachios. The closer, Spoda Be, hipshakes the hallway with a damped pulsing horns background and Larry Fallstrom's Hammond trotting out for a sashay round the room as Gabriel gives us the lowdown on his latest amour. So if the question is What's the Chance…?, the answer is: Very good.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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