The sound of Blues Rock being dragged into the modern world by an artist who is very much like a fine wine.
Aside from the fact he hails from the footballing mecca of Leicester City, there's three things you need to know about Aynsley Lister. Firstly, although he can definitely play the guitar just like ringing a bell, his focus is always on crafting the strongest songs possible. Secondly, pegging him as a Blues musician is reductive; Rock, Americana, Jazz and transatlantic Pop melodies also feature in his work. Thirdly, and most importantly, he's getting better all the time.
After a decade and a half in the business, Lister's artistry reached excellent new heights on 2013's 'Home', the guitarist's first release on his own label. Buoyed by that creative freedom, after being pushed in a more commercial direction on 2009's 'Equilibrium', it highlighted how he'd become the complete package, his singing and song-writing having caught up with his prodigious six-string skills. But if 'Home' was Lister reaching the top of a mountain, 'Eyes Wide Open' is the sound of him leaping to the moon.
We're talking wonderfully written tracks that are thrillingly varied and bursting at the seams with texturally wealthy instrumentation ('Hold You To It', 'Everything I Have To Give'), atmospheric storytelling ('Dishevelled' and 'Il Grande Mafioso'), beautiful heartbreak ('Kalina') and soaring anthems ('Time'). Where the thirty-nine year old's previous effort was comparatively more laidback, this offering was recorded live in the studio, and is a return to the Rocked up, guitar-driven sound of his exceptional gigs.
'All Of Your Love' and 'Handful Of Doubt' are hard-grooving firecrackers with insistent hooks while a liberal helping of stunning solos will leave guitar geeks crying "we're not worthy". Inspired by the tasteful lyrical fret-work of Peter Green and Eric Clapton, his leads are perfectly phrased, either scorching the sky or seducing the sun, depending on the requirements of the song. In particular, the thrilling climax of 'Won't Be Taken Down' is so emotionally scintillating it could be Aynsley Lister's 'Sloe Gin'.
'Eyes Wide Open' is the sound of Blues Rock being dragged into the modern world by an artist who is very much like a fine wine. He's maturing and appreciating with age and you'll probably end up totally giddy and sozzled if you consume an abundance of his wonderful music.