JFK Blue Debut Album Rough Round The Edges
The title is apt, the album has a sense of purpose, is never over-produced it has been left Rough Round the Edges. JFK Blue are a five piece united by a love of playing music and the blues is the rocket fuel that lights the spark. The band JFK Blue are new to me when the invitation to review Rough Round the Edges dropped in to my inbox. They comprise vocalist and guitarist Chris Elliot, Iago Banet on lead guitar, Keys from Dave Lennox adding another layer of vocals and the Rhythm section bassist Leslie Fleischman and on drums Sol Ezra plus percussion and vocals. The band may have Blues in the name but are never restrained to sit in any particular genre they want you to enjoy the self-penned numbers reflecting their many influences.
A debut album, exploring styles with a variety of approaches that rocks up that rootsy feel of the blues. ; stretching the definition and adding a spark of electric feel. The album in under five days, with a tight budget capturing the feel and attitude of the sixties using vintage gear in an analogue studio.
The eleven tracks are all a bit different as we open up to a heartfelt St. Joseph; certainly makes the listener want to hear more, the guitar is tasty with a rocked back beat and the drums give the percussive push. You may say you are Rough Round The Edges; this assures first time listener that we are in safe hands, musicians that can play with stripped back production and listenability. The sound is contemporary throughout the eleven tracks as they take us down a beat and we enter the Shadowlands. The album has a live, one take feel, the chorus is catchy a warm melodic beat; look out for Iago’s solo the catch pulling the track together so never hidden in the shadows of the album. So are they going to rock up the tempo on Can’t Tell the Truth? Now they take it down, to a laid back mooch full of tonal contrasts and sharp harp playing.
Half way through and contracting sounds engages the listener with Reggae infused Shed A Little Light, bring a kiss of summer, hot pavements and chilling out. Smart marching beat of drums opens up Nola (Gimme The Funk); full of pure driven funkiness. This is a band that likes to swing in the changes swim against a tide that says you should have a uniform signature style.
As we draw to the end of the album the penultimate track Don’t Cry For Me; I can assure you no one will be crying in pain listening to JFK Blue. This has a free-flowing jamming with control a band that is relaxed having fun but never losing its shape and sense of purpose. Closing with Having A Real Good Time, the band wants to make sure you have with eleven tracks that suit everyone’s taste with different styles and approaches.
For, me at times the vocals lose shape and could have had more depth of tone and range and despite listening to eleven JFK Blue originals they are still to me an unknown. I just couldn’t quite grasp what direction they wanted to go in. This is gentle rock that doesn’t disappoint but never quite lights a blue flashing flame. JFK Blue, debut Album Rough Round The Edges is smooth perhaps at times too contained trying too hard to please. Yes, mix it up but have a narrative not an experimentation with lots of different styles. Stamp your JFK Blue brand on the music so it will be instantly recognised. That said a good solid debut, and I certainly want to hear them play live and get to know JFK a little bit better.
SEVENdoodle paws out of TEN ….
- St Joseph
- Can’t Tell The Truth
- Road Again
- Shed A Little Light
- Nola (Gimme The Funk)
- I Wanna Rock n’ Roll Ya
- If You Change Your Mind
- Away From You
- Don’t Cry For Me
- Having A Real Good Time