Gary Hoey's latest album was a year and a half in the making. In-between touring he was busy refining every lyric and lick until he was happy with it. It wasn't a quick record to make, and it wasn't an easy one; but, as Hoey says 'that's why they call it the blues because it ain't easy.'
It's an album of two halves that begins with the duelling guitars of Hoey and Eric Gales on Under the Rug. Hoey's son, Ian, features on the plaintive blues track, Don't Come Crying. Then the upbeat and bluesy basis of the first half shifts gear during the yearning Gary Moore inspired instrumental, Almost Heaven and the electric guitars move towards a more traditional rock sound. I Felt Alive continues to sweep the album into heavier climates with a sweltering slide guitar and some hot and heavy percussive tones. It's an example of Hoey's love of pushing his style forward and unafraid to try something new. Lance Lopez, who's no stranger to a full throttle guitar solo, joins in on Damned if I Do which dips things back into more traditional blues refrains.
The rock and blues sounds that Hoey draws from during the album finally fuse for the last few tracks, bringing the record full circle. Neon Highway Blues certainly ticks all the boxes for a solid blues-rock album. There are nods to the old and to the new alongside characteristically strong playing from Hoey and some memorable tracks too. Despite the time Hoey spent on it, it's polished, but not thankfully not overworked.
Groupie rating 4/5