ERIC SARDINAS – Midnight Junction (2023)

ERIC SARDINAS - Midnight Junction (2023) - full

ERIC SARDINAS is a bona fide road dog. He’s been playing shows all over the world for decades. Perhaps because of that traveling he hasn’t released a studio record since 2014’s raucous Boomerang. His new album ”Midnight Junction” is a wooly collection of originals and a lone cover. Longtime compatriots drummer Chris Fraizer (Whitesnake, Foreigner) and keyboard player Dave Schulz (Berlin, Goo Goo Dolls) appear alongside new bassist Koko Powell (Sheila E, Lenny Kravitz) with producer Matt Gruber helming the boards.
While the guitarist / vocalist doesn’t change up his blues-rock seasoned formula all that much, some longtime criticisms of his work are no longer valid. A startling example is in the lyrics: While Sardinas isn’t writing poignant originals, he is employing fewer cliched blues metaphors and imagery. What’s more, the vibe here, while typically rowdy, is less “serious.”
That means ”Midnight Junction” is a rocking party record top to bottom with some truly stellar moments.

Opening single “Long Shot” uses a sizzling guitar assault to house-rocking effect. The verse is played in a shuffling swagger adorned with screaming fills, filthy distortion, and uncharacteristically relaxed vocals. Second track and single “Tonight” pulls a classic sound wedding vintage roots classic rock and rowdy roadhouse blues. “Planks of Pine” is notable for the dynamic, chanted, call-and-response chorus vocals from the band.
“Swamp Cooler” opens with acoustic resonator guitar before blues legend Charlie Musselwhite and his harmonica start trading fours with Sardinas before the band enters a nasty, anthemic instrumental that is equal parts Southern-flavored hard rock, blues, and outlaw swagger. While this could have been a sorry blues album cliche (despite the caliber of the players) it’s anything but: the playing by both is inspired, and high-octane with rock-solid support from the rhythm section.

Sardinas has always held the late Irish bluesman Rory Gallagher’s playing in the utmost esteem. He’s covered him in the past and here takes on one of his most iconic songs in “Laundromat,” the opening track from Gallagher’s eponymous 1971 album. In typical fashion, Sardinas and company play it at almost twice the tempo; astonishingly, it’s nearly punk in its intensity. He delivers the vocal with gravely soul, but dirtier. The rock & roll rave-up in the bridge is anthemic here — a show stealer.
“Miracle Mile” is a nasty yet soulful Chicago-style blues with killer string pinches and striking Wes Montgomery-esque harmonic invention.

Other highlights include “Julep,” “Lock and Key,” and “Movin’ On,” all with added women choruses. The presentation on all three recalls the overdriven sleaze & roll of Black Oak Arkansas; the good-time back porch stomp of “Liquor Store” has the sleaze but a different production style.
Finally, the uncharacteristic, instrumental closer “Emelia” has glorious fingerstyle work that unfolds with phase-shifted, multi-layered psychedelia atop modal changes and a soaring finale.

Classic Rock fans will certainly enjoy the fingerpopping ”Midnight Junction” to drastically improved songwriting and Gruber’s instinctive production skill that frames this raw, manic study in blues power.
Highly Recommended


01 – Long Shot
02 – Tonight
03 – Said and Done
04 – Planks of Pine
05 – Julep
06 – Swamp Cooler
07 – Miracle Mile
08 – Laundromat
09 – Muddy Water
10 – Lock and Key
11 – White Lightnin’
12 – Liquor Store
13 – Emilia

Eric Sardinas – vocals, guitars
Chris Frazier (Whitesnake, Foreigner) – drums
Koko Powell (Lenny Kravitz, Sheila E) – bass guitar
David Schulz (The Goo Goo Dolls, Berlin) – keys and organ
Charlie Musselwhite – guest harmonica



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