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There's little doubt that 19-year-old Oxfordshire wunderkind, Aaron Keylock can play: the guitar has been his bedfellow for most of his life. By the time he was 13 when most boys are thinking about girls, cars and X-Boxes, Aaron was already gigging every night of the week. After playing a string of festivals and building up a following on the back of successful supporting slots, the pressure was always going to on for the boy wonder to produce a top notch album.

Cut Against The Grain was recorded in LA with producer Fabrizio Grossi, the album features many tried and tested Keylock tracks such as live favourite Medicine Man and Just One Question, the first song he ever wrote, replete with yearning Gary Moore style soloing. The eleven tracks are a mix of southern rock, blues-based licks and even a tang of Brit pop on insouciant pop tracks like Spin The Bottle and That's Not Me.

Aaron's energy is tangible from the Gallagher influenced opener All The Right Moves to the Steve Earle rebel defiance on Falling Again and even a frenetic axe bashing à la Seasick Steve on Down.

The balance of his earlier and newer material feels very much like a transition from boyhood into manhood. It's evolving maturity will only improve as Aaron develops as an artist.

For all his adroit licks, Aaron's weak spot is his vocals. His home counties twang is a little too tame in places, clearly indicating that his youth was not misspent on the usual vices of rock n' roll. Of course, this is probably all in all a good thing, but the downside is that they do lack the testosterone-fueled fire that he has on the fret board.

There is a clear attempt to break away from the standard blues vibe, with different styles and influences, but it doesn't fully pull away from the generic heritage. A cut against the grain it may not be, but it's certainly a cut above.

Groupie Rating 4/5

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