Musician: Paul Gabriel


For most of his 44 year professional career, Paul Gabriel has been a guitarist for a string of other artists. For example, he performed on three albums by Harry Chapin, played slide guitar on

Rory Block's Grammy nominated Mama's Blues, and toured with Michael Bolton. Then, in 2001, Gabriel issued his first solo album, Fate, where listeners first heard his mellow, tenor vocals.

Now, it's 2013, and his Duke Robillard produced Whats the Chance demonstrates Gabriel has evolved into a guitarist/singer/songwriter with his feet planted firmly in the B. B. King, Robert Cray-flavored Memphis tradition. That means fluid lead lines, supporting horn sections, and smooth, melodic vocals.

Gabriel announces his intentions on the opening track, inviting us all to have a "Old Time Ball" with him. It's hard not to think of B.B.'s "Lucille" on "Ride, Ride, Ride" or the style of Steve Cropper on the Stax-throwback, "What's the Chance."

"328 Chauncy Street" is a swingin' instrumental giving the organ man space to shine, "Baby I Wish" is more pure B.B., and "Devil's Daughter" goes even further back with an arrangement that might remind you of Jimmy Rushing and "Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime" moans. "All" is gentle combo jazz but "Roomful Of Blues" is down and dirty hurtin to the bone blues.      And you don't get much bore bare-bones than "Fine At'tire" where Gabriel and a piano tell the story of becoming a blues singer in Memphis.     

If no one has yet coined the term, I offer Paul Gabriel as a good example of Adult Contemporary Blues. That is, he offers foot tappin' melodies with an emphasis on very pleasing vocals supported by laid back, tightly honed instrumentation. He sounds like an ideal opening act to warm up audiences for less restrained bands and performers. There's a place for that and always has been.

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