Broken Levee and Lindsay Hannon illuminate on Last Light

Take three lads from the North East of England with musical influences such as Clapton, Bonamassa and Gallagher; add in a Northumbrian lady who brings a jazz background to the blues and the result is a collaboration of huge potential…Broken Levee and Lindsay Hannon are the result and they have an EP out called Last Light. I use the word ‘collaboration’ advisedly as Broken Levee is a hard gigging blues trio playing across the UK and Lindsay Hannon Plus is the equally hard working jazz outfit that Lindsay fronts. In 2017, they developed a writing and performing partnership and the fruit of that union combines the blues and jazz and delivers five diverse tracks of err… bluesy jazz mixed with jazzy blues. They also recently completed a live recording in Newcastle and that will be released soon.

I have to assume, as the information available does not provide writing credits, that the band composed all but one of the tracks. The one I did recognize straightaway was a Tom Waits cover…now, normally I would run a mile from Waits’ work as it usually has me reaching for the Gillette, but there is something arresting about Romeo Is Bleeding as covered here. Lindsay’s unaccompanied jazz infused vocal captures the attention and, when the band comes in gently and gradually, it begins to grow. The guitar playing starting at the two-minute mark is magical as its careful phrasing, with subtle bass and drums behind, lifts the song into something a bit special. However, I am getting ahead of myself…the opening track, Face The Wall, is blues-rock with a heavy riff introduction and sparse backing to the verses. It is one of those immediate songs with that riff getting lodged in the mind and then an inventive solo played with a slide that cleverly gives it an Eastern tinge. The vocal is pure blues and gives an idea of the vast range Lindsay can bring into play. In That Moment has a guitar introduction that is a jazz version of Trower when he is in a slow and moody mood. The bass behind the guitar solo is the star of this track and, thankfully, the clear production allows one to listen to it behind the vocal too. The solo itself is one of the true blues kind…it lets the spaces between the notes express as much as the notes themselves and the result is thoroughly enjoyable, especially the sudden increase in pace toward the fade. Title track, Last Light, is another example of jazz influences melding with the blues in a seamless way. It has joyous sections as the pace lifts and the multi-tracked vocals give us a different hue from that which precedes it. The solo only comes in at the fade, but it is worth waiting for. Final track, If It’s True, is another demonstration of Lindsay’s vocal prowess with just gentle chords behind her voice. The first solo, when it arrives, is another example of how Ian uses space so damned well. The multi-tracked vocal works very well too, as she once again shows her amazing range. Then, to surprise us all, at the four and a half minute mark, it bursts into a blues ballad with the guitar providing the voice, and this enthralling solo reminds me slightly of the climax of Priest’s Beyond The Realms of Death…in a very good way.

So here we have a five track, 32 minute EP of music which, on first listen gave me a “yeah, pretty good” response but on subsequent run-throughs it has grown and grown as the depth, clarity and inventiveness began to shine through. It is actually a very good, well-structured recording and bodes well for their live album and, hopefully, a full album soon. I will certainly be looking out for their next studio release with anticipation.

EIGHTpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …

Track Listing:

  1. Face The Wall
  2. Romeo Is Bleeding (Tom Waits)
  3. In That Moment
  4. Last Light
  5. If It’s True

 

Musicians:
Lindsay Hannon: vocals
Ian Simpson: guitar, vocals
James Robson: bass
James Carmichael: drums

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