The BluesBones Chasing Shadows Come Out On Top

Formed in 2011, The BluesBones are a 5-piece band from Belgium. Noted for their solid blues-rock foundations, they have had success over the intervening years with 2 studio and two live albums. They have just released the next chapter of all original compositions, entitled Chasing Shadows. I must admit to a shiver of apprehension when I read the PR…”A concept album that touches a lot of life’s obstacles”. Concept album means, in my mind at least, a potential for overblown ideology and tenuous links, shoehorned into music and/or lyrics which quite often cause the music to suffer. Fortunately, in this case, it is not that kind of album; it is a group of songs that tell a bleak and continuous story across the album. Do not let that bleakness dissuade you, all of them entertain as they cross-fertilise traditional blues and blues-rock with a trace of the psychedelic and a ladle of funk.

It opens nicely with the rocking Find My Way Out, a great intro with guitar and Hammond following each other giving it an almost Purplish, Burn era feeling. Going Down is a mid-paced blues with a swampy feel due to the outstanding slide guitar. Paglia, unlike some players, knows how to strike a string once and then let the bottleneck do the talking as it glides up and down the neck. (Incidentally, he is currently crowdfunding a ‘solo’ album with Wayne Procter from King King). Demon Blues is (comparatively) spaced out with its rocking horse tempo. It has a definite psychedelic feel and gets into your head and won’t let go…I love it! A Better Life is a blues shuffle in the traditional manner, but with a highly entertaining Hammond solo slotted in. In fact, throughout, Risbourg has a touch of Jon Lord’s R&B sound when he was playing with The Hootchie Coochie Men (check out Danger: White Men Dancing to see what I mean). Love Me or Leave Me is slightly pedestrian, but is lifted by great Rhodes and guitar solos. Sealed Souls is a slow true blues ballad with great colour provided again by the Hammond. The lyrics are heart-wrenching and De Cock (stop sniggering at the back!) puts such emotion into his interpretation. A sublime guitar solo with vibrato and string bending to echo the song’s sentiment sends chills down the spine: this is how to play the blues. Romance for Rent takes the pace back up a notch with an almost pop phrasing. This one takes a while to grow but remains the weakest of this strong set. Psycho Mind gets back to blues shuffle territory and, despite the dark lyrical message, is an uplifting kind of tune with yet more great Hammond and a guitar solo with a subtle touch similar to Marsden. Betrayal is another traditional blues structure, giving an object lesson in how to utilise an established pattern and phrasing and turn into something different. They achieve this thanks to an inspired piece of Hammond, all backed with rock-solid bass and drums. Seesaw Blues is next and this time we get a swinging, distinctly 60s poppish feel due to the sound injected into the guitar that brings to mind inevitable Hank Marvin comparisons. The final track is, considering the story that has unfolded thus far, unsurprisingly called The End. Opening with a lovely, dirty bass sound and guitar that gives a layer of funk over the blues form, it develops into a truly memorable number with yet another carefully thought out guitar solo employing numerous methods to give a depth and variation without resorting to widdling, as so many guitarists seem to feel obliged to do.

This is clearly a band that deserves much wider recognition; their compositional skills are extremely high and each is a master of their instruments. A special mention to bassist Boeckx and drummer Mertens who back up effortlessly and shine when they need too. The album is vocally strong too with Nico having a sound of his own, defying any direct comparisons plus, bearing in mind that English has to be a second language, the lyrics are imaginative and the enunciation is crystal clear.

This is a highly recommended release for lovers of traditional blues played with 21st Century sensibilities and could teach a thing or two to some more established artists.

NINEpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …

Musicians:
Nico De Cock – vocals
Stef Paglia – guitar
Edwin Risbourg – keyboards
Geert Boeckx – bass
Koen Mertens – drums

 

Track listing:

  1. Find My Way Out
  2. Going Down
  3. A Better Life
  4. Love Me or Leave Me
  5. Sealed Souls
  6. Romance for Rent
  7. Psycho Mind
  8. Betrayal
  9. Seesaw Blues
  10. The End
  11. Demon Blues

The BluesBones Chasing Shadows Come Out On Top

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