March 2, 2001
Dancing with El Distorto (Black Rose)
By Ted Drozdowski
Sure, Maynard Silva is largely unknown outside of the Cape and Boston area, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a diehard expert at playing gutty blues. Check out his “Heartbroken Moon,” a seven-minutes-plus essay in loneliness where his guitar speaks as much as his hangdog lyrics. One track’s all cry-and-moan, his dirty tone bending into arches of raw pain as he pushes his strings, his fingers carving sighs from little harmonic pinches, his slide slurring through a veil of steel-on-steel tears. Another track floats tremolo’d lines behind his solo, where they shimmer like the ghost of shattered soul whose voice he assumes in the songs. It’s a heavy and very electric tune.
Silva’s also great at laying down the acoustic stuff, creating a sort of Delta-Piedmont blues fusion out the heavy strumming and slide-and-rhythm picking of Joe Lee Williams’ “Stack of Dollars.” Plus, he’s got the right vocal vibe. But the accent here is on plugged-in material that sounds as if it were from a juke joint with one corner in the Twilight Zone thanks to Silva’s taste for multiple guitar parts that play off each other in unusual ways – like the slide line in “I See You In My Mind” that threatens to dart away from the key as another tremolo’d guitar makes like a drunken Hammond B-3 organ. Throughout. Silva’s excellent playing and ton prove that imagination has no stylistic or geographic boundaries.