Times Have Changed Blues remain for Ronnie Baker Brooks

Times Have Changed Blues remain for Ronnie Baker Brooks

Times Have Changed
Blues remain for Ronnie Baker Brooks

 

The album title reflects so much more that the ten years that has gone by since the last Ronnie Baker Brooks recording. No-one can argue with the statement Times Have Changed the world is a fast-moving cauldron of change and uncertainty. Having listened the one certainty is Ronnie Baker Brooks blues is class.

Opening with Show Me that is full of soul that sets the juices going featuring Steve Cropper, and booming bass saxophone a promising start but without a feeling of urgency I want to hear more. The album has five self-penned tracks and a mix of covers. The Memphis shimmer is heard on the instrumental Twine Time, with Lonnie Brooks adding guitar with many of the same musicians and mics this is Stax Records sound captured for the here and now. It fizzes retro looking back trying to recapture when as the title says things have changed.

The title track does just that building up to a surprising inclusion of music of now. Opening with a traditional feel cool guitar with stinging licks, it encompasses Blues where the guitar loops around the lyrics with a percussive pull that allows the guitar to soar higher and higher.  Then we have the difference rap! Courtesy of Al Kapone as not just the neighbourhood has changed, music has changed.  What hasn’t changed is the working class blues of the chasm between rich and poor and the despair that being at the wrong end brings.  The hip-hop beat adds another contemporary dimension, a part of another link in the chain of music that yearns change. Out of Memphis has the pull of history and the roots of the blues is strong. The title track is strong and the lynch-pin that holds the album together. As you re-listen again.

A funky soulful retro mood is shaped and moulded with Give Me Your Love (Love Song), Angie Stones voice is full of sultry warmth that pulls in the vocals from Brooks that are delivered with an almost hushed reverence over the horns. This Curtis Mayfield classic was the first song recorded and has a fluidity that sometimes the album as a whole on first listening lacks.   For, me a tempo change after eight minutes would have added a flinty spark but now we have another slice of funk on Give The Baby Anything The Baby Wants.  Then the inclusion of Old Love, his Mother’s favourite song. We have a change of tempo with a feet tapping, horn churning number Wham Bam Thank You Sam. His vocals have a Robert Cray feel. The chorus is catchy full of energy as the album closes out with When I Was We.  Another demonstration of Ronnie Baker Brooks vocals that cajoles and never plays second string to his guitar.

Times Have Changed, is an album that digs deep into the Memphis tradition produced by Steve Jordan, recorded at the Royal Studios with an ‘A’ listers roll call of musicians this album was always going to be class.

Like time, the album is slow to mature and takes a few spins before the facets really glint and shine. This is blues with layers of soulful funkiness delivered with style. The standout let’s do something different moment is definitely the title track showing how blues can be stretched and reformed to capture the music of now without losing its basic integrity.

 Times Have Changed – Ronnie Baker BrooksMascot Label Group

EIGHT pawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN ….

Track Listing

  1. Show Me
  2. Doing Too Much
  3. Twine Time
  4. Times Have Changed
  5. Long Story Short
  6. Give Me Your Love (Love Songs)
  7. Give The Baby Anything The Baby Wants
  8. Old Love
  9. Come On Up
  10. Wham Bam Thank You Sam
  11. When I Was We

 

Find out more about the making of the album and Ronnie Baker Brooks read Bluesdoodles Interview HERE

People We Become Sings Inspirational Jo Harman

People We Become Sings Inspirational Jo Harman

 

People We Become Sings Inspirational Jo Harman

 

The People We Become is the long-awaited follow-up to the acclaimed 2013 album Dirt On My Tongue. Worth the wait, YES in one simple word. Is it the same, a variation on Dirt On My Tongue NO. Jo Harman has deepened her musical framework the album is considered artistry of sound, tone and lyrical textures.

The album opens with a crackle and the distant voice of Jo as singing from the past. Quiet then thirty seconds in the tempo hardens with drum and bass we are in the now as Jo’s vocals come forward and take control. No One Left To Blame, opens the album with spine-tingling emotional power and if you don’t listen on you only have yourself to blame.

As the album unfolds, this is Jo Harman being herself full of poignancy and personal. As ever the vocals are smoky, smooth and/or pure depending on the tone and shaping the lyrics around her tongue adding joy or bitter-sweetness. This is the seductive power of Jo Harman’s voice, once heard never forgotten.  Jo has been described as a blues singer; that is just a part of the full musical equation of Jo Harman as she weaves in gospel, soulful Motown, and the angst of a singer-songwriter exploring personal hurts.  Jo is a singer who understands the power of using her exceptional voice as the focal instrument throughout the album.

The percussive forces on tracks reflect the intensity of Jo’s voice.  Then as in a perfectly balanced black and white photograph, the shadows and greys say more. Lend Me Your Love the piano and vocals give the track a simplicity so the soaring lyrics sung capture your attention. The percussion gives the track tonal texture and the underlying hurt and anger. Energy is added with Reformation and its tribal, urgent percussive intro, harking back but not copying a holler. The clapping adds a sting as we stomp to the number influenced by her work with Amnesty International.

Recorded in Nashville, at Sound Emporium and other noted studios, with acclaimed producer Fred Mollin (including Billy Joel, , Carly Simon, Joe Cocker and Johnny Mathis more) the album features Michael McDonald on the first single ‘When We Were Young’. With its up-tempo fun beat lightening the album blending in a song that will definitely be getting radio play with its easy listening dance rhythm and smooth backing singer it is a hit.

 

 

The ten track, superbly crafted album closes out with piano and voice as Lonely Like Me with deep melody and a song that is timeless as we feel the hurt of loneliness and understand the begging for forgiveness as it is part of our own life’s journey. It is why we are the People We Become.

Bluesdoodles believes this is an album that will delight her phalanx of fans and bringing many more into the Jo Harman camp, they will relate to the album for its timeless majesty and it fearless uncompromising delivery of songs. Songs that Jo wanted to write and sing not because they are a particular musical style.

TEN pawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN ….

Track Listing

  1. No One Left To Blame
  2. Silhouettes Of You
  3. Lend Me Your Love
  4. Unchanged and Alone
  5. Reformation
  6. Changing of The Guard
  7. Person of Interest
  8. When We Were Young
  9. The Final Page
  10. Lonely Like Me

Bluesdoodles Recorded Music Reviews 2015

Bluesdoodles Recorded Music Reviews 2015

Check Out: Bluesdoodles – Pick Of The Bunch 2015 HERE

Gun Metal Grey – Island Of The Dammed
Reverend Freakchild – Hillbilly Zen-Punk Blues
Sunjay – Black & Blues
Shawn Amos – The Reverend Shawn Amos Loves You
Southpaw Steel’n’Twang – Stat(u)e Of Mind
Jimbo Mathus – Blue Healer
Lewis Hamilton – Shipwrecked
Karen Lovely – Ten Miles Of Bad Road
Paul Cowley ~ Rural
Eddie Martin’s Big Red Radio ~ Live In Tuscany
Dana Fuchs ~ Broken Down
Mike Zito and the Wheel ~ Keep Coming Back
Connie Lush’s ~ Renaissance
Lara & the Bluz Dawgz ~ Howlin’
Husky Tones ~ Time For A Change
Dave Ellis Blues Band – Straight Up
AndersonPonty Band ~ Better Late Than Never
Michael Schenker ~ Communion (single)
Brad Wilson ~ Blues Thunder
Leslie West ~ Soundcheck
Ron Sayer Jr. & Charlotte Joyce ~ Live at the Little Theatre
The Ultimate Guide To Scottish Folk ~ Various Artist
Wild Ponies ~ Things Used To Shine
Paul Garner ~ Band Big Road Roots
DBA ~ Suburban Home
Walter Trout ~ Battle Scars
Rob Richings ~ Half Way Up
Wild Ponies ~ Things That Used To Shine
The Paul Garner Band ~ Big Road Blues
Ole Frimer Band ~ Live at Blues Baltica
Neal Morse ~ Testimony and One Live
O’Connor, McSherry & Og Graham ~ Ulaid
Kris Barras Band ~ Kris Barras Band
Lucy Zirins ~ What’s In Front Of Me
Joe Louis Walker ~ Everybody Wants A Piece
Danni Nicholls ~ Mockingbird Lane
John Mayall~ Find A Way To Care
Mark Pontin ~ Textures
Delta Ladies ~ Refugee
Jared James Nicholls ~ Highwayman
Boo Boo Davis ~ Oldskool
24 Pesos ~ Do The Right Thing
Dove & Boweevil ~ This Life
Willy Porter ~ Human Kindness
Review Recording of Joe Bonamassa ~ Live at Radio City Hall
Willy Porter ~ Human Kindness
Martin Harley & Daniel Kimbro ~ Live At Southern Ground
The Grahams ~ Glory Bound
The Octavia Blues Band ~ It Ain’t What You Got, It’s What You Give
Joel Hoekstra’s 13 ~ Dying to Live
Angela Lewis Brown ~ Set Me Free
Chantel McGregor ~ Lose Control
Sam Lewis ~ Waiting On You
Babajack ~ Babajack Live
Blues Engine ~ The Quick and The Dirty
Craig Finn ~ Faith In The Future
The Jar Family ~ Family First
Jo Harman ~ Found A Place
John Cee Stannard & Blue Horizons ~ Stone Cold Sober
Robert Cray ~ 4 Night Of 40 Years Live
Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue ~ Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue
D.A. Foster ~ The Real Thing
Spin Doctors ~ On The Road (Live)
Rob Berry ~ Blues N Boxes
Buddy Guy ~ Born To Play Guitar
Groanbox – Groanbox
Delta Deep ~ Delta Deep
Troy Redfern Band ~ Backdoor Hoodoo
Della Grants ~ Time For Change
Gerry Jablonski & Electric Band ~ Trouble With The Blues
Anthony Gomes ~ Electric Field Holler
Buddy Guy – Born To Play Guitar – Preview
Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion ~ I’ll Be Yours Tonight
Kaz Hawkins ~ Get Ready
Jared James Nichols ~ Old Glory and Wild Revival
Debbie Bond & The TruDats – That Thing Called Love
Malaya Blue ~ Hope
Craig Finn ~ Newmyer’s Roof
Coolhand ~ Coolhand
Joe Satriani ~ Shockwave Supernova
Matt Edwards ~ Four Berry Jam
The Bresnan Blues Band ~ Party In My Backseat
Henrik Freischlader ~ Night Train To Budapest: Live 2014
Danny & The Champions of The World ~ What Kind Of Love
Meg Baird ~ Don’t Weigh Down The Light
Gill Landry ~ Gill Landry
Aynsley Lister ~ Home
Guy Tortora ~ Bluesman In A Boneyard
Doug Admaz ~ National Steel
Beth Hart ~ Better Than Home
Brian Ashley Jones ~ Out Of The City
Brad Absher & Swamp Royale ~ Lucky Dog
Royal Southern Brotherhood ~ Don’t Look Back
Dave Hunt ~ Whiskey & Demons
Kelley Hunt ~ Beautiful Bones
Barna Howard ~ Quiet A Feelin’
Samantha Fish ~ Wild Heart
The Black Tongued Bells ~ Every Tongue Has a Tale To Tell
The Billy Walton Band ~ Wish For What You Want
Kopecky ~ Drug for the Modern Age
Little Devils ~ The Storm Inside
Justin Townes Earle ~ Absent Fathers
RavenEye ~ Breaking Out
The Tim Jones Band ~ Home Again
Wily Bo Walker & E.D. Brayshaw ~ Stone Cold Beautiful
Erja Lyytinen ~ Live In London
David Philips ~ If I Had Wings
Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip ~ Ain’t Bad Yet
Ryk Mead and the London Blues Machine ~ Chicago
Voodoo Sheiks ~ Voodification
Rainbreakers – Blood Not Brass
Giles Hedley – Rain Is Such A Lonesome Sound
The Milk Carton Kids – Monterey
Devon Allman – Ragged and Dirty
Dan Burnett – E.P.
Maddie Jones – Vita Brevis
Layla Zoe – Live at The Spirit 66
Doug MacLeod – Exactly Like This
Laurence Jones – Whats It Gonna Be
The Mighty Bosscats – Boiling Pot
John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers – Live In 1967
Devenport – Back In The Land OF The Living
La Vendore Rogue – Light Up With
Joe Bonamassa – Muddy Wolf at Red Rocks
Dani Wilde – Songs About You
Simon Campbell – The Knife
The Handsome Family – Wilderness
Joe Pug – Windfall
Catfish – So Many Roads
Duke Garwood – Heavy Love
Alex Hill ~ I Am Not Lost
Robin TrowerSomething’s About To Change
Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman ~ Tomorrow Follows Today
Elliott Morris ~ It Seems To Make Sense To Me
Lisa Mills ~ I’m Changing – re-mix
Ben Poole ~ Live at The Albert Hall
Dan Patlansky ~ Dear Silence Thieves
Revolutionary Saints ~ Revolutionary Saints
Marcus Bonfanti ~ Borrowed Time
Jack Hutchinson Band ~ Get It Back
Mick Simpson ~ Unfinished Business
The Riotous Brothers ~ The Tree
Jules Carter Trio ~ Done Misbehaving
Robbie Hill & The Blues 62’s ~ Price To Pay
BB & The Blues Shacks ~ Businessmen
Colossium ~ Time On Your Side
Vargas Blues Band ~ From The Dark
Ian Siegal ~ One Night In Amsterdam
Joel Fisk & The Breakdown ~ The Well
John Mayall ~ A Special Life
The King Biscuit Boys ~ All In A Days Work
George Shovlin & The Radars ~
Grainne Duffy ~ Test Of Time
Bad Bob Bates ~ Bridge Street
Fish ~ A Feast of Consequences
Mojo Makers ~ Devils Hands
Tristan Mackay ~ Wire and Wood
Davy Knowles ~ Outsider
Glas ~ From The Blues To Your Shoes

Bluesdoodles Recorded Music Reviews 2014

Bluesdoodles Recorded Music Reviews 2014

Sandi Thom ~ Flesh and Blood
Larry Miller ~ Soldier Of The Line
Ian Siegal ~ The Picnic Sessions
Richard Townend/Mighty Bosscats ~ 7 Deadly Sins
Dana Fuchs ~ Songs From the Road
Virgil & The Accelerators ~ Army Of Three
Mike Zito & The Wheel ~ Gone To Texas
Zoe Schwarz & Blue Commotion ~ Exposed
Joe Bonamassa ~ Different Shades Of Blue
Katie Bradley ~ Anchor Baby Sessions
Coco Montoya ~ Songs From The Road
Cut The Funk ~ Weekend Coda
Red Dirt Skinners ~ Live In Aberdeen
Sunjay ~ Sunjay
Red Butler ~ Freedom Bound
Joe Bonamassa ~ Get Back Tomorrow (Single)
Joanne Shaw Taylor ~ Dirty Truth
Tim Aves & The Wolfpack ~ Never Saw Chester
Idle Hands ~ Feeding The Machine
Moreland & Arbuckle ~ Seven Cities
Devenport ~ Concrete Bound
The Midnight Ramble ~ Sink The Pieces & High Time Live
Hamilton Loomis ~ Give It Back
Philip Sayce ~ Influence
Tasty Nuggets ~ Sons Of The Delta
Charlie Wooton ~ Charlie Wooton Project
Mark Harrison ~ The World Outside
Devon Allman ~ Turquoise
Walter Trout ~ The Blues Came Callin’
Royal Southern Brotherhood ~ Heartsoulblood
Matt Schofield ~ Far As I Can See
Malaya Blue ~ Bourbon Street
Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion ~ Blues Don’t Scare Me
Amy Wadge & Pete Riley ~ Afterglow
Ayesha ~ A Thousand Shores
Kyla Brox ~ Live …. At Last
King King ~ Standing In The Shadows
No Sinner ~ Boo Hoo Hoo
Joanne Shaw Taylor ~ Songs From The Road
Robert Cray ~ In My Soul
Ian Siegal ~ Man & Guitar
Tom Gee Band ~ Swapping Stories
Clare Free ~ Butterflies
The Mentulls ~ Time Flies
Blue Touch ~ Old, New, Borrowed Blue
Well Hung Heart – Go Forth and Multiply
Wooden Horse – This Kind Of Trouble
Makuini – Blues In My Bones
Babajack ~ Running Man
T Rogers ~ Simple Life
Foy Vance ~ Joy Of Nothing
Red Dirt Skinners ~ Sinking Mary Rose
North Mississippi Allstars ~ World Boogie Is Coming
Lightnin’ Malcolm ~ Rough Out There
Forty4 ~

Here We Go says Simpson and Flemons Sing Favourites






Here We Go says Simpson and Flemons Sing Favourites

Here We Go says Simpson and Flemons Sing Favourites

Having heard all of the twelve tracks on the album live in 2016 when Simpson & Flemons visited Cardiff, I was delighted to be able to relive the night of live music once again. In fact, can re-live the experience as often as I like. The only things that are missing the presence of two great musicians and the interesting anecdotes and facts between the numbers giving context and a deeper understanding of the deep roots of the acoustic music being played. All twelve tracks have a purpose and in addition to the new arrangements and musicianship we have the blending, and mixing of British traditional music and blues in many guises and the common heritage of themes, lyrics and melodies the two traditions share.

The twelve tracks that are as they state ever popular to lovers of acoustic music, were recorded live during their sell-out autumn 2015 tour. Simpson and Flemons find a unity as they harmonise what are the common core of roots acoustic music from each side of the Atlantic. They find the common threads that show a deep psyche of roots music in the cultural memories of folk.  Martin Simpson and Dom Flemons champion traditional music that is still relevant and speaking to us today the modern audiences that packed their shows. The people travelled as did their music creating a river of creativity. Opening the album of delights with  Here we go as they pick up instruments and play.  Short Time Come Again No More reflects back across the Atlantic the suffering of the factory workers of the North West as well as those hit by the cotton famine of the American Civil War. A mirror image, re-working of Stephen Foster’s Hard Times Come Again No More it hits the message home hard and the lyrics win through. The instrumentation throughout is fresh, lively with an energy that makes your feet tap and becoming engaged. For many this album will be an introduction to the Quills as part of the multi-instrumentalist repertoire that is Dom Flemons, this pipe-like instrument can be heard on Bulldoze Blues, inspiration for Canned Heat’s Going Up Country this combined with his vocals that have an authority and intensity as he spans the octaves with a purity and a mighty fine holler when required. Combining Martin’s scintillating slide and acoustic finger picking style joining in with Dom’s Quills with a piping call and the percussive bones this is music that sings from the heart deep into your musical DNA. The vocals are full of emotional intensity, yet at the same time, every song has a simplicity letting the words tell that tale of people’s experiences we all recognise today. The mix is enticing with Champagne Charlie re-invigorated and Coalman Blues telling the story full of humour and pathos. Every track has something to say to you the whole album zings with the energy of a live performance with emotions,  and the charm of music delivered with love and care.  All the traditional numbers are arranged by Simpson and Flemons and into the mix is a Flemon’s original Too Long I’ve Been Gone fitting into the mix perfectly.  A definite for your acoustic collection. I recommend close the curtains block out the world, sit back and be absorbed into the music and the power of the lyrics.

Mr Martin Simpson & Mr Dom Flemons – Ever Popular Favourites – Fledgling Records

TEN pawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN ….

Track Listing

  1. My Money Never Runs Out
  2. John Hardy
  3. If I Lose
  4. Little Sadie
  5. Pay Day
  6. Short Time Come Again No More
  7. Too Long (!’ve Been Gone)
  8. Bulldoze Blues
  9. Stealin
  10. Champagne Charlie
  11. Coalman Blues
  12. Buckeye Jim

Not Broken Mick Ralphs Set Down the Blues







It Is not Broke as Mick Ralphs Blues Band Set Down the Blues

Not Broken Mick Ralphs Set Down the Blues

 

Not Broken Mick Ralphs Set Down the Blues on an album that personifies British Blues.  Mick Ralphs Blues Band album If It Ain’t Broke hits the blues spot of British Rhythm and Blues with its mix of British rock, Chicago and the elixir of blues feel that Mick and the band have in buckets and is poured over every track. The album is a mix of originals and classics continuing Mick’s musical journey as he takes us back to the smoke-filled clubs of the 60’s and early ‘70’s where we first heard the blues.  Opening with I Don’t Care, we are transported onto a blues cloud of delight as Jim Maving’s guitar joins forces with the power of Mick. Adam Barron on vocals delivered with panache curling around the rhythm section of Bassist Dicky Baldwin and Damon Sawyer on drums. You know this is a band that cares for the blues, feels the blues and to play blues that get your feet tapping with delight.

The two Freddie King tracks, Same Old Blues and closing track Going are blues classics you can connect to simple and timeless, here they are crafted to reflect the British tone and approach to a genre out of the USA. Other tracks that stand out from the crowd on this well-crafted album with Talk To Your Daughter with its driving guitar and rhythms,  along with Barnes & Seals Roll The Dice that just suits the style Mick favours that of Freddie King and Steve Cropper.  Then the number Well Connected with a modern feel from Maving & Maxwell brings an edgier feel with its harder blues edge.

It is very true that across the ten tracks the attitude is It Is not Broke as Mick Ralphs Blues Band Set Down the Blues. This is crafted blues, distilled the essence and combining with experience of guitarist Mick Ralphs’ time with Bad Company and Mott The Hoople and every note he has played on the journey that has led to the album of blues. If It Ain’t Broke is the perfect response as the band plays blues from the heart.

EIGHT pawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN ….

Mick Ralphs Blues Band – If It Ain’t Broke

Track Listing

  1. I Don’t Care
  2. Shakey Ground
  3. Talk To Your Daughter
  4. Just A Little Bit
  5. Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me
  6. Same Old Blues
  7. Too Bad
  8. Roll The Dice
  9. Well Connected
  10. Going Down

Bluesdoodles wishes Mick Ralphs a speedy recovery from the Stroke he suffered earlier this month.

Definitely NOT The Wreck of The Blues Pontus Snibb

Definitely NOT The Wreck of The Blues Pontus Snibb

Definitely NOT The Wreck of The Blues Pontus Snibb

 

With burnt Sienna hues, a trashed car on the album cover is the Wreck of Blues, the music Pontus Snibb and his band produces is a solid sapphire cut gem, and Pontus Snibb plays States Side Blues out of Sweden.  Wreck of The Blues, is blues that swirls with guitar licks that fall from the lyrics then adds a sting to the tail in the lead break as the guitar cries, howls picking up the vibe of the 1950’s. Without the band providing a rhythm that gives the blues depth we would simply have vocals and guitar the feel of the blues would be played without its body.  Joining charismatic frontman Pontus Snibb is drummer and Dad, Hakan Nyberg and bassist Micke Nilsson.

We have a hint of inspiration of the blues as he name checks on No Peace Of Mind head full of songs could be by Freddy King or The Stones. Elsewhere on the album BB King, Otis Rush and Clapton join the list. This is blues that shimmer, shake and have a deep groove that fills the speaker with funk. Opening the album with classic electric blues, More Blues and Blue Sounds lay down his credentials as a guitarist who understands the nuances of the blues with a rocky edge.  Then he changes the beat with Boogie Man, adds in shades of darkness, and a shimmer of fear as we meet the Snibbs Boogie Man. Electric guitar thrills spill over the whole number, some short and sweet others sustained.  The threat of something is spoken about at the beginning of Lightnin’ Change with a voice over from yesteryear. Then the chugging blues guitar picks up the beat and the vocals distorted continue sporadically in a track that feels like an instrumental. Then another change that works for me as Pontus picks up the acoustic on I’m Walking and we join him on a trip down the road a light and gentle interlude that works better that the previous track. We are back with sunshine groove of the blues with Turning Back The Clock, the sound certainly transports you back to Dance Halls of the fifties. Closing with Keep On Loving Me you are left with blues licks and riffs singing in your ears. Definitely NOT The Wreck of The Blues Pontus Snibb as you leave us wanting more of your blues style.

EIGHT pawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN ….

Pontus Snibb – Wreck Of Blues

Track Listing

  1. More Blues and Blue Sounds
  2. Same Same
  3. No Peace Of Mind
  4. Boogie Man
  5. Longing For You
  6. As I Please
  7. Lightnin’ Change
  8. I’m Walking
  9. Turning Back The Clock
  10. One’s Too Many
  11. Keep On Loving Me

 

Irish Rock Album Solas is this The Answer


Irish Rock album Solas is this The Answer

Irish Rock Album Solas is this The Answer

Do not confuse the title with anything maritime! Solas is Irish Gaelic for Light, not the acronym – Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). With that clarified what about the music on their seventh studio album Solas? If you expect Rock with a loud shout you  will be disappointed. If you want light-rock fused with roots of Irish folk, lyrics that curl around with melodic intensity you are in the right listening zone.

The Answer, have taken one helluva musical journey over the ten years since the debut album Rise with its blues-infused rock.  Now on Solas the exploration of their Gaelic heritage in the musical tone and lyrical shaping full of misty mysticism, fear of the dark, hidden regrets and the light of hope is apparent.

Opening with the title track with a wave of sound or percussion that feels like a wave, James Heatley’s relentless drumming is the backdrop for Cormac Neeson’s vocals.  The chorus is melodic full of Celtic harmonies flowing as the music takes you deep into the soul of the band, their experiences and reflecting the light of Solas. The guitar work is huge as the number closes with a lead break that promises much from Paul Mahon.  Rock firmly rooted in the traditional shapes Beautiful World with its captivating opening chords full of Eastern promise. That opens up with instrumentation with the energy of rock contained to be played at eight, not eleven. The result is the lyrics dominate and it is the voice that is the main instrument, with Micky Water’s bass, along with the guitar and drums playing a supporting role filling in the gaps acting as lead breaks for the words.

Yes, now three tracks in this Irish-infused rock harnessing tones and textures from the folk tradition. The Answer, on Solas have a story to be told and heard. The ballad Battle Cry, this will be fantastic live as the audience picks up the chorus and lifts the spirits of all hearing the music. This is Irish folk-rock that fills the heart with melodic joy as Gaelic merges with the English. Half-way through Thief of Light takes us with mandolin and Celtic harmonious riffs far away with a reflective sound, that reminds us that sometimes we need to start again as if the dark is to be conquered and energy regained.

Then, a change of musical shape with Being Begotten as we head to a blues-infused Southern Swamp leaving the emerald-green of Irishness. This blues-infused feel reflecting their debut album Rise is found again with Southern-rock Demon Driven Man, with a rock n’ roll upbeat feel upfront and full of energy.

The three bonus tracks have an acoustic feel In This Land, Light In The Darkness both full of folk-inspired chords and structure and then a fuzzy reinterpretation of Pink Floyd’s Money.

The Answer on Solas deliver reflective rock, light and at times whimsical not something to play loud and hard but to sit and enjoy. Reflecting the turmoil of life and the need to go back to their roots and bring pure Irish gold into their rock. This is Rock that has a gentler edge softened by the winds of time and gives you space to reflect before cranking up the volume with a rock offering from a different part of The Answer’s journey or someone else in your collection.

That said Solas definitely has a place in your rock collection bridging rock with tradition. It is an album you will return to and on every occasion, your appreciation of the subtleties will grow as you hear more of the clever lyrics missed on the last outing.

The Answer – Solas – Napalm Records

NINE pawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN ….

Track Listing

        1. Solas
        2. Beautiful World
        3. Battle Cry
        4. Untrue Colour
        5. In This Land
        6. Thief Of Light
        7. Being Begotten
        8. Left Me Standing
        9. Demon Driven Man
        10. Real Life Dreamers
        11. Tunnel
        12. In This Land
        13. Light In Darkness
        14. Money (Pink Floyd Cover)

 

The Leopard says Be Live With Rebecca Downes


The Leopard says Be Live With Rebecca Downes

The Leopard says Be Live With Rebecca Downes

Rebecca Downes is not a foxy blues singer she has the speed and cunning of a leopard. Anyone who has seen Rebecca live will have two burning memories, the imitation leopard skin coat and the fact that her vocals are not an imitation they are her own and totally real. He voice has a great range and turn of tone she stuns you with her dexterity as depending on the number she makes the lyrics, cajoling, tempestuous, husky or smooth. Who is Rebecca Downes some may ask, well the Birmingham based singer and her band have been gaining attention wherever they play. This is the very reason she has been voted Best Emerging Artist and Best Female Vocalist in the British Blues Awards 2016. They are a sensation.

Rebecca is not defined by the blues but shaped by them with a soulful voice and a stage presence that shines out as wide as her dazzling smile. Rebecca is a singer who loves the stage and the audience loves her back as the music flows and Be Live captures the essence of a Downes live show. Her voice dances around the lyrics and the musical backdrop her band skillfully delivers.

The live music is a perfect set to demonstrate the depth of Rebecca’s catalogue it is a statement that this is a blues singer who understands the power of the lyric that she shapes with her tongue. Be Live is definitely a statement of intent to deliver music that we want to hear live again and again.

The album is mix of covers and self-penned tracks. Opening with Never Gonna Learn, from her studio album Believe there is one thing for certain buy the album and hear her live to learn what a hothouse of blues music this girl is. This is blues with energy and intensity that makes for sweet hearing. This live performance shows that Rebecca is learning and her skills are being honed having opened for King King and Norman Beaker. With another of her numbers Fever In the Night, the light jazz feel and the feeling of seduction Peggy Lee’s Fever is immediate comparison for all the right reasons. There is a raw animal vivacity about her singing throughout the thirteen tracks.
We all like something funky with an intro of drums guitar and keys on My Sweetness as the band are introduced. They are more than a foundation they are the glittering rock that allows Rebecca to soar and play with the lyrics as she wraps them around her tongue and delivers them with sweetness. The band tonight are Steve Birkett (Rhythm guitar, slide guitar & vocals d guitar and co-writer); Rick Benton (keys); Dan Clark (bass); Lloyd Daker (drums) and Rik Sandford (lea). This is a track that has funky vibe with some hot Southern licks.

A cover that stands out on the album is Etta James’ I’d Rather Go Blind; often covered and Rebecca has re-shaped the classic to suit her delivery. Steve Birkett’s lead break builds with intensity and hurt, maintaining the tension as he fades Rebecca introduces him and the keys cool the emotions before she picks up the song again gentle with hurt and despair.

We have a gentler tempo with Sailing On A Pool Of Tears, the blues guitar has the tempo that counters the voice that is full of emotional hurt, the feeling of despairing loss captured within this heartfelt song.

Closing the album and another friendly comment that warns the audience to Rebecca as she says We couldn’t do this without you. Live music needs an appreciative audience as she closes out the night with Beatles classic, With A Little Bit Of Help With My Friends. There is no doubt that this album, touring Rebecca will be destined to make many more friends through her music in 2017.

Rebecca Downes – Be Live – Mad Hat Records

NINE pawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN ….

Track Listing

  1. Never Gonna Learn
  2. Fever In The Night
  3. Another Piece of My Heart
  4. Night Train
  5. Long Long Time
  6. My Sweetness
  7. Back To The Start
  8. Rather Go Blind
  9. Basement Of My Heart
  10. Sailing On A Pool Of Tears
  11. Believe
  12. 1000 Years
  13. With A Little Bit Of Help From My Friends

Live Music is Better Listen Here to Jon Spear Band

Live Music is Better Listen Here to Jon Spear Band

Live Music is Better Listen Here to Jon Spear Band

 

 

Who doesn’t agree that music heard in a venue full of atmosphere, friends and people digging the music you love is just the best entertainment. Sometimes, though it is just brilliant to curl-up stay indoors and listen to your music we have the answer Live Music is Better Listen Here to Jon Spear Band, Live at The Southern.

If you like your blues shaken with ripples of funk, soul, and a R&B vibe then this is your stop on the platform of music on offer.  Jon Spear Band have captured a clean live sound, with just enough spoken interaction to make the music stand out from the studio version. With a dozen tracks we get to know the band well and meet some guests bringing a blues tonal depth to the event Live at The Southern.

We start, the evenings journey on The Devil’s Highway, the vocals are full the interaction between Dara James on lead and Jon on Rhythm full of interest with guitar solos that slipping and sliding around the rhythm section, bassist Andy Burdetsky and John Stubbenfield on drums.

For an opening track the guitar solo is long will the audience keep their interest? The question is answered with a resounding yes, with a delightful version of Robben Ford’s Nothing To Nobody.  Again the vocals are mellow the guitar work superb, what  lifts this number is the introduction of  saxophone from Haywood Giles and keys with a mellow flow from Adrian Duke.

The live Jon Spear Bands intriguing and different version of the Neville’s Brothers Cissy Strut gains and retains your attention. The bass once again is a fat full sound that pulls in the guitars and the undertones from Sax and organ as the night gets funky and cool giving this classic a welcomed outing. Following one eight-minute display we have a second long track with Have You Ever Loved a Woman with Freddie King’s classic speared and captured in the net of smooth blues ballads tonight.  Beginner Blues, a Frankie Miller number demonstrates as through these cool cats are no blues slouch they add that captivating mix of guitars, vocals and a driving rhythm. The covers are done with panache, capturing the essence of the original whilst giving them the bands personal interpretations. Into this mix are some self-penned numbers, The first of these is Old Soul, the vocals have a quality that make the lyrics pop out like a firework above the guitar and bass that you ears what to listen to with the crying sax makes the sound yearning blues. The piano intro is greeted with warm applause in a foot tapping number that has a feel good fun factor, as the beat takes us down to New Orleans to a Juke Joint searing sax and honky tonk make for a captivating combo. Closing with a track title I will not be arguing with Live Music is Better, The guitar has a stinging clear quality that Jon uses to full effect making you want to turn off the home music and go find a live gig. The album is a true shout out and celebrations of the power of live blues close up and dirty.

Recorded live November 2015  at  Recorded live at the Southern Café and Music Hall in Charlottesville, Virginia.

 

Jon Spear Band – Live Music Is Better

EIGHT pawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN ….

Track Listing

  1. Devil’s Highway
  2. Nothing to Nobody
  3. Shake Your Boogie
  4. Before The Bullets Fly
  5. Cissy Street
  6. Have You Ever Loved A Woman
  7. Old Soul
  8. Blues About You Baby
  9. I Love My Skin
  10. Paid In Full
  11. Beginner at the Blues
  12. Live Music Is Better