Debut Album, Undone from The Black Circles
The Black Circles have been kicking up a dust cloud of plaudits from within the blues scene so Bluesdoodles was interested to hear and reflect on the blues they are creating out of Warrington. The opening guitar of Sam Bratley shows promise, One Big Lie has a sound is looking back and then the vocals come in not adding a layer of energy but sounding rather flat and uninteresting; not the best beginning. The guitar of She’s Dynamite has a sting in its tail and the vocals pick up the energy She’s Dynamite will get dancers and lovers of urban 1950’s blues very happy. With a drum intro we have a change of tempo and a grungier sound that shows this is a band with true potential but again I’m Leaving has a dampened feel and the lyrics feel tired and predictable. This track does have a rockier feel and has more energy and I was pleasantly surprised by Drifting, acoustic driven country blues. This change in texture and tempo shows the depth of musical scope and knowledge of this young band on their debut album. Then back to a traditional blues sound the guitar playing by Sam is very good, and the Hammond from Jesse Davey adds another layer of tone. The rhythm section once again is solid thanks to Martin Saunders on bass and drummer Phil Wilson. Closing with Left Behind, the tempo rises but I am left feeling let down rather than Left Behind with closing notes wanting more.
When I listen to a debut album I assume three things, (sometimes wrongly!). Firstly, the band/artists involved are all good musicians including vocal prowess, then there is enough material for an album and lastly time and care has been taken to create a well-produced album.
The Black Circles guitar work is blues personified, for the majority of the album, Undone is stinging urban blues that hits the right timbre of tone. With a solid rhythm section and the addition of Hammond 3 on some tracks the sound is robust. For me two things let me down with the vocals these were just off the mark often drowned in the deluge of guitar and slurred and have a moaning drone. The Black Circles debut Album Undone, misses the mark for me underdone with blues of a previous period recreated but not twirled into a modern form. Debut albums are always hard and the test for The Black Circles will be changing drummers from Phil Wilson to Mark Barrett who brings with him the esteemed pedigree of being part of The Hoax. With more gigs under their belt a refining of a sound that I hear glimmers of in some of the tracks The Black Circles could develop into a must see band. For me this is work in progress. The saving grace is that the album sees The Black Circles experimenting with varying styles of blues harkening back to Albert Collins & Freddie King; harder edge rocky blues and acoustic country blues. They will by their second album have developed a recognisable sound, distinctive feel that will be The Black Circles hook.
The Black Circles – Undone – Independent Released April 15 2016
Bluesdoodles gives this CD SIX doodle paws out of TEN ….
- One Big Lie
- She’s Dynamite
- Don’t Mean A Thing
- Stop Acting This Way
- I’m Leaving
- Hard times
- Gypsy Girl
- Bad Luck
- Left Behind