One of the most prolific shredders and fusion virtuosos around, Alex Skolnick has showcased a mastery of multiple genres, from heavy metal to jazz, with the likes of Testament, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Metal Allegiance and The Alex Skolnick Trio.
For his latest outing, however, Skolnick has ventured into new territory, reuniting with his trusted trio – bassist Nathan Peck and drummer Matt Zebroski – for his first-ever fully fledged blues track, Florida Man Blues.
It’s a stark contrast to anything we’ve heard the electric guitar titan deliver to date. Unlike his previous efforts this year – such as his mind-bending collab with Lost Symphony, Marty Friedman and Nuno Bettencourt – Skolnick ditches gargantuan gains for crystal cleans in a demonstration of his versatile chops.
It’s a first for Skolnick in the vocal department as well, who pairs his new-found penchant for out-and-out blues with a taste for the lead singer role.
Wielding a number of blues guitars in the accompanying music video – peep that pink Squier Stratocaster – Skolnick treats listeners to an extended opening bout of improvisation, with single-coil snaps and flurrying pentatonic frills.
Paying homage to the energetic soloing of Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan, Florida Man Blues offers just the right amount of laid-back nonchalant noodling and a thirst-quenching quantity of decorative licks, which precede an irresistible gain-tinged fretboard exploration.
As the track progresses, so too does Skolnick’s playing, which is later treated to a touch more gain and a healthy dose of wah.
Accompanying the track is a music video directed by Adam Dubin, whose credits include the video for Metallica's Nothing Else Matters, which recently topped one billion views on YouTube.
“The blues has always been a big component of my playing, across genres,” reflected Skolnick. “In high school, B.B. King was on my turntable as much as Van Halen. And I’ve always loved the lyrical humor of folks like Junior Brown, Frank Zappa and early Tom Waits.
“Florida Man Blues presented an opportunity to fully display these influences for the first time on a recording.”
Of the track, which was originally penned back in 2019, the axe slinger added, “It gives me great pleasure to finally release this video. In the two years since we tracked this tune, so much has happened."
In contrast to the social commentaries Skolnick has shared throughout the past two years, Florida Man Blues casts such issues aside and instead adopts one goal: to provide a song that is “non-partisanly entertaining”.
“We can all use a good dose of solid blues and good humor during these times. I’m grateful to everyone involved, from tracking to filming, especially Adam Dubin, who believed in this song and felt it deserved a video as big as, well… Florida.”