CD Review: Kris Barras Band ~ Kris Barras Band

krisbarrasbandKris Barras Band
Kris Barras Band
Independent

 

 

True Rock/Blues that springs into action on Never Too Late sums up Kris Barras Band as they deliver a self-titled debut album of eight tracks full of dark emotions and cries of anguish. This is blues with sharp edges the vocals have a rough primeval texture that growls and works around the stinging rhythms and guitar licks that squeal and drive the tracks home. This is a British Blues band that is delivering a modern sound of blues that rocks with control and the knowledge that less is often more as subtle guitar hooks are not left to hang out to fade but picked up and expanded by the vocals that want the lyrics to be heard. Opening with a track driven so that you instinctively turn up the volume as the foot stomping riffs captivate, then sit back to enjoy the rocky road that this band as going to take you on. In Too Deep has a raw energy that defines Rock Blues full of depth of churning beat and a tempo that is racing in time with your heart beat, it is the rhythm section, drummer Jon Perrin and Ricky Mitchell on bass that defines the number. The blues shine through on Watching Over Me and then Rocky Road that has a lightness of touch with a tempo that sis like the bouncing ball highlighting the vocals that Kris delivers crisp and clear with his distinctive rasp and the guitar solo is stinging with musical assertiveness that rocks you to your core and sends electric shivers up your spine. The album has a stinging pace that is never hurried but there is an urgency that gets the adrenalin going with I Don’t Want The Blues puling blues chords into a rocking and rollicking medley of fun as Kris Barras and his band close the album with Crank Up is a track that leaves you immersed in the music and the screaming blues driven rock leaves you knowing you have listened to a debut album where the collective talent of the band has delivered rock blues with interest and you want to hear more from Kris Barras Band.

Bluesdoodles gives this CD EIGHT pawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN ….

Track Listing

1. Never Too Late
2. In Too Deep
3. Watching Over Me
4. Rocky Road
5. Rise
6. It Is What It Is
7. I Don’t Want the Blues
8. Crank Up

CD Review: Samantha Fish ~ Wild Heart

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Samantha Fish
Wild Heart
RUF Records

 

This is the album that will definitely place Samantha Fish at the top; she has achieved a double accolade on her third studio album with vocals full of energy and precision in her delivery combined with guitar playing that lifts the roof off and shows this is a woman who relishes being a Wild Heart of the blues. It is a fitting follow-up to Black Wind Howlin’ which we said was “ …a weather vane of sound as the wind changes direction the tonal range shifts”.

The whole album has a vitality and energy that pours out of the speakers brightening up the room where the music cascades this is a feel good album from Sam; who has a natural talent that is fuelled by deft fingers and vocal chords that shape and deliver the song.

Opening with Road Runner; this is no cartoon character but music with a country blues twang that is being delivered by a musician who just has to play her music, powerful chords and impeccable timing, and wild licks starts the Wild Heart a listening experience that continues over the next eleven tracks. The blues women and guitars can trace their lineage back to Rosetta Thorpe; through to the greats of now Bonnie Raitt and Susan Tedeschi and in the U.K. Joanne Shaw Taylor with her searing guitar breaks, and now into the mix is most definitely Sam Fish with her superb slide and cigar box guitar adding a distinctive tonal cadence. Added into the mix is the accomplished band of musicians that she has gathered around her including a rhythm section, Luther Dickinson on Bass & Grammy Award winning drummer Brady Blade, together they combine a rhythmic dexterity that keeps the shape of every style of roots music being delivered on the album.

What sets the album apart from many is that it is so listenable with the combination of vocals that drag every meaning out of the lyrics whether on a cover, a track penned by herself or co-written. from the country rootsy feel of Blame It On The Moon with her vocals howling with a wildness that has to be moon fever; or Go Home a gentle melodic sitting on the porch tale as she sings “Wrapped those secrets around a telephone pole” this is a reflective song on how families and home shape you. Then there are tracks like Turn It Up where the heat is turned up the guitars and vocals wail in a Southern Rock swampy number that gets the adrenalin going; it is a breathtaking number that for me defines the very bluesy greasy groove that is the essence of Samantha Fish’s appeal.
This is a superbly and sensitively produced album, demonstrating what a master Luther Dickinson (north Mississippi All Stars /Black Crowes) is when it comes to understanding what is required in the process of creating an album drenched in the complexity that is music rooted in the fertile musical lexicon that is American roots music. Luther has distilled the essence of Samantha through her pulsating fingers on the frets, lyrical singing resulting in a perfume of musical depth and complexity flowing wild and free from your speakers it is truly on every track a Wild Heart.

What an album… for me the music was… Simply Addictive

Bluesdoodles gives this CD TEN doodle paws out of TEN ….pawprint half inch

Band
Samantha Fish: Vocals/Guitar
Luther Dickinson: Bass Guitar/Lap Steel/Mandolin/Lead Guitar
Dominic Davis: Bass (Track 8)
Lightnin’ Malcolm: Guitar (Track 6)
Brady Blade: Drums (Tracks 1,2,3,4,5,7,8,9,10,11)
Sharde Thomas: Drums (Tracks 6)
Shontelle Norman-Beatty: Vocals
Sisse Norman: Vocals

Tracks

1. Road Runner (Samantha Fish)
2. Place To Fall (Samantha Fish / Jim McCormick)
3. Blame It On The Moon (Samantha Fish)
4. Highway’s Holding Me Now (Samantha Fish / Jim McCormick)
5. Go Home (Samantha Fish)
6. Jim Lee Blues Pt. 1 ( Charley Paton)
7. Turn It Up (Samantha Fish)
8. Show Me (Samantha Fish / Jim McCormick)
9. Lost Myself (Samantha Fish)
10. Wild Heart (Samantha Fish / Jim McCormick)
11. Bitch On The Run (Samantha Fish / Jim McCormick)
12. I’m In Love With You (Junior Kimbrough)

CD Review: The Tim Jones Band ~ Home Again

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The Tim Jones Band
Home Again
Independent
Release Date 22nd May 2015

 

This is an album that is about musicianship rather than the power in a trio, this is what happens when the collaboration is between musicians who feel the music. Tim Jones guitar and vocals is the front of the band but it is the rhythm section provided by Andy Hodge & Sam Kelly that gives the music its heartbeat and drive.

Embedded throughout the album are lyrics that reflect personal experiences and people, the self-penned tracks were written in Spain during 2014, as Tim says “They’re all about people and things in my life at the time, although some of the songs have their roots in much earlier days.” Opening with Small Town, which has the enclosed feel of being in a small space, there is anger and despair. The album is cut back and at times there is a sparseness of notes but the tempo and tone and shape of the music changes with The Nature of Love a blues driven ballad where the lyrics roll around the music full of yearning and wistfulness.

We have sharp guitar licks and a lightning of mood and direction on I Want Your Money this is blues that gets your feet tapping; leading into a version of St James Infirmary where the vocals deepen and the guitar slows and the bass line adds to the mood creating a sound full of dark blues gloom.

Again we have a version of Rollin & Tumblin that follows Tim’s direction with this stripped back version that works and fits well into the timbre of the album. Closing with a funky shaped track that has an energy others definitely sometimes miss we have After The Rain, and the storm breaking has lifted the mood leaving you tapping your feet and admiring the skillful shaping of the music.

There are twelve tracks, of which ten are originals and the overwhelming tenure of home again is stripped back blues with the tempo being used to shape the mood this is an album full of moody brooding blues with a hint of a storm around the corner.
The album is acoustic roots blues with electric over tones, there is a thoughtful precision to every note and fleeting gaps of silence the drumming from Sam is full of intuitive connection with the emotions of the lyrics and the bell-like quality of the guitar work.

Bluesdoodles gives this CD SEVEN doodle paws out of TEN ….pawprint half inch

CD Review: Wily Bo Walker & E.D. Brayshaw ~ Stone Cold Beautiful

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Wily Bo Walker & E.D. Brayshaw
Stone Cold Beautiful
Independent
Release Date 22nd May 2015

 

Wily Bo Walker is a solo singer-songwriter; on this album the Glaswegian has teamed up with guitar maestro E.D. Bradshaw to create Stone Cold Beautiful with the backing vocals from Karena K adding extra tonal range creating six tracks full of musical colour and interest.
Opening with Storm Warning, a bluesy track where the storyline hits cinematic proportions when the melody rises to a crescendo and you are on the road with a storm looming and coming up fast, with its powerful blues/rock anthem guitar chords this is a six-track album heading out of the starting blocks with some mighty licks. Loudon Wainwright 111’s Motel Blues, brings some country acoustic blues into the mix a stylish delivery suiting Wily’s vocals. The other cover has opening guitar that is stylish with hints of Gary Moore as the notes sear through the blues tempo and the vocals growl and draw out the words giving them a dark blue effect with the desperation of Loan Me a Dime. This is blues that is steeped in misery and the backing vocals from Karena K adds a bitter-sweet air that makes the track work so well. September Red is a melodic, full sounding track with backing vocals that take on choral proportions as autumn fades and leads to Winter Blue. The album finishes with Killers On The Run full of percussive drive and keyboards that hook you up to the lyrics sung by Wily in his distinctive gravelly Tom Waits infused vocal delivery; leaving you with a smile at Stone Cold Beautiful’s delivery of blues with a rocky attitude. This is an album of six songs that span many shades of blues and for nearly forty minutes you are transported to music that entertains, and blends rock with blues in perfect proportions it is a pity not more tracks to really explore the potential of the music they offer.

Track Listing

1. Storm Warning ( E.D. Brayshaw/ Lesley Brayshaw)
2. Motel Blues (Loudon Wainwright 111)
3. Loan Me a Dime ( Fenton Robinson)
4. I Want To Know (Wily Bo Walker)
5. September Red (Wily Bo Walker)
6. Killers On the Run

Bluesdoodles gives this CD SEVEN doodle paws out of TEN ….pawprint half inch

CD Reviews: Ryk Mead and the London Blues Machine ~ Chicago

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Ryk Mead and the London Blues Machine
Chicago
Independent
Release Date – May 29th

 

Second track in is the title track, we have an homage to blues and a city forever connected to the music that remains forever popular, Chicago a city of electric guitars and blues that hit your music soul.this is an album full of self-penned numbers, with the lyrics curling around the guitar and a rhythm section that adds power and knows when to be heard and when to step back into the background.

Every track has a riff, lick and general musical drive that certainly encourages foot tapping and nods of delight as they blend the music like a skilled cocktail maker so you have a hint of sweetness and a twirl of sharpness with power, jazz and funk all interplayed throughout the album. The musicians have timing that makes the blues sing, garnered from years of playing, Ryk Mead is the heartbeat of the sound being produced guitar, bass on some tracks and vocals all superb but the standout is the guitar work that is like molten metal being bent and channeled into the shape and soul of blues stretching back to its very origins.

Fooling Me Too Long ups the intensity with rock added to the mix this is power blues that makes you listen, whilst Blues Latino shows a lighter side with its hip swaying sultry Latino tempo this is border country music and not the one USA shares with Canada. Hurricane Blues, upping the tempo Texas fuelled blues and you can understand why Ryk’s is being labelled The Blues Hurricane. Closing with Cyprus Grove the guitar playing is full of tone and the whole slowed down blues sound just leaves you knowing that is blues played with delight, “Rather Drink Muddy Water, …. Rather be buried in some old Cyprus Grove …..” lyrics that just love the guitar work that is full of blues passion a great version of this Skip James’ track.

This is an eleven track album infused with the love, insight and understanding of the blues, how the timing works with an added bonus of many embellishments, changes in tempo and style and the mixing of the instrumental sounds so that every track has a reason to be on the Album Chicago. If you love your blues then this is an album that will not disappoint with lyrics that take you back whilst the music is fresh and contemporary.

Bluesdoodles gives this CD EIGHT doodle paws out of TEN ….pawprint half inch

Tracks
1. Heartful of Misery
2. Chicago
3. I’m Not Afraid
4. Put Away Your Blues
5. Fooling Me Too Long
6. Everyday
7. Blues Latino
8. Walking In The Sun
9. Running Out Of Time
10. Hurricane Blues
11. Cyprus Grove

Band Members
Guitars/Vocals/Percussion – Ryk Mead
Bass – Jake Libretto or Ryk Mead
Drums – Piers de Margarey or Jake Libretto

CD Review: Voodoo Sheiks ~ Voodification

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Voodoo Sheiks
Voodification
Independent

 

 

Opening with The Thrill Ain’t Gone, with deep moody bass clash of cymbals harp and the beat picking up before the vocals, this is blues that didn’t grab me from the off, not sure why the timing was a bit rushed but the lyrics were clever and the Voodification could take time to work its magic.

Voodoo Sheiks, shake-it up with energy that has a live feel in this their second album and amongst the mix of tones the tempo is always high speed, with influences from pub rock especially early Dr Feelgood. By the time the keyboards from special guest Paul Johnson kicked in on Flying Fortress I was into the groove and Voodoo Sheiks approach to Rhythm and Blues was making sense to me. This is a four-piece that wants to play their music in a style that is loyal but not constrained by any genre, they have a British approach in the instrumentation and Exit Wound is slower giving time for the music to shape around the distinctive Slowblow Dave Magson’s vocals who has a timbre that counteracts the guitar work from Adrian Thomas.

The rhythm section is the powerhouse of the band driving the songs along spitting out a stylish beat. Often it is Andy Pullin’s bass that provides the hook for the vocals as on, Build Me A Woman the first of the covers catches your attention, they have now lost that frenetic intensity of the first few tracks and all the better for that in my opinion. This is definitely back to pub rock and a Feelgood factor with the harp and vocals from Slowblow Dave and driving guitar which will definitely get people up and dancing whenever they hear New Boogie Disease; with John Coombes drums kicking the beat you just have to boogie the night away.

One of my personal favourite Allman Brothers tracks, Whipping Post, now receives the Voodoo treatment and the bass at the beginning is beguiling and the guitar work tight from Adrian Thomas, the vocals were a bit strained and lacked the urgency I would have expected this band to have pulled off, but an interesting arrangement that fits well into the shape of the album.

Negative Equity Blues is full of blues with contemporary lyrics and the beat is back up to a high octane level leading into the penultimate track Show and Tell with their observations on social media the vocals immersed in the guitar work of Adrian who delivers a stylish solo.

Ending with Monkey DNA we are treated to a duet of harp and drums at the beginning which works so well for me this is a track that epitomizes the power of the Voodoo Sheiks style and approach to music. Picking up with a jiving bass driven beat and a monkey at the heart a common animal for many a blues album; this is music that definitely isn’t monkeying around; with lots of guitar, harp and music form the quartet.

The album is definitely full of dark energy, and excellent musicianship, Voodoo Sheiks have included three covers and nine self-penned numbers full of rooted blues music that is then contorted into the musical texture they want to deliver on the album. The result is a high energy, raw, live sound produced and recorded over four days in a studio, this is a band in a hurry to put you under their spell and make Voodifcation a household word for pub rock infused blues.

Bluesdoodles gives this CD SEVEN doodle paws out of TEN ….pawprint half inch

Tracks.
1. The Thrill Ain’t Gone
2. Have A Heart
3. Flying Fortress
4. Exit Wound
5. Build Me a Woman (Renson / Ramsey)
6. New Boogie Disease
7. Whipping Post (Allman Brothers)
8. When Love Comes To Town (Bono/The Edge/Clayton/Mullen jr)
9. Shared Truth
10. Negative Equity Blues
11. Show and Tell
12. Monkey DNA

EP Review: Rainbreakers ~ Blood Not Brass

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Rainbreakers
Blood Not Brass
Independent

Release Date 22nd May 2015

 

Rainbreakers, another new group for me, are certainly not conventional blues, they have taken the framework of blues, reshaped the scaffolding and build a sound, shape and form of Rainbreakers blues that is modern and distinctly their own full of noise, distorted vocals and drumming that will be heard and is definitely not in the background keeping time.
Opening Blood Not Brass with a crash of drumming from Sam Edwards, a bloodcurdling scream and then the guitar picks up a riff and pushes the structure into shape with style great guitar work from Jack Cooper before the slightly distorted but clarion clear vocals via a harp microphone from Ben Edwards, the last member who glues the rock blues Rainbreakers structure is bassist Peter Adams who has the power Ain’t Nothing Goin’ On is on the money.

There is a frenetic urgency and excitement in the playing that without careful timing and consideration of the other members of the band could descend into anarchy but as the drum fades away on the first track and the guitar intro of On My Knees starts you realise this is a band with talent who want to be heard. The track that gives the EP its title has a gentler start as if they have collectively taken breathe but then the contemporary vocal twist cuts in and whilst holding onto tradition they are distilling through their instruments a myriad of influences from popular music culture from the sixties onwards creating a modern and timeless sound crossing genres and full of interest.

Closing with All I Got I know there is a lot more in the tank of this exciting four piece of Rock Blues band that deserves to be heard far and wide. This is a sound that whilst being unique has a listenability and deserves mainstream play it is exciting music delivered with a freshness and passion that is Rainbreakers.

This is a four track E.P. that in the fifteen minutes of recorded music jams in an album’s worth of excitement. Rainbreakers are a new band for Bluesdoodles but I was left after listening to this exciting music the urge to go hear a full set live.

Bluesdoodles gives this CD EIGHT doodle paws out of TEN ….pawprint half inch

LIVE DATES
MAY
2nd The Marrs Bar, Worcester Supporting Laurence Jones
3rd The Crown & Anchor Vaults, Bishops Castle
9th The Bear Inn, Bridgnorth
15th The Red Lion, Gravesend Supporting The Mentulls
16th Stourbridge Blues Festival, Stourbridge
23rd The Castle Hotel, Manchester
25th Rock & Bowl Festival, Market Drayton
27th The Jam House, Birmingham
29th The Star Inn, Bentworth

And Rainmakers continue to tour see.. Tour DATES

CD Review: Laurence Jones ~ What’s It Gonna Be

Gonna Be

 

Laurence Jones
What’s It Gonna Be
Ruf Records
Release Date 13th April

 

Opening with the title track the self-assured opening guitar and vocals tells you this album is gonna be – a maturing Laurence Jones putting down on the recording the music he has been playing on the road and reflects the honing of skills touring with his band that has given him the poised confidence to play the rocky harder edge blues that he enjoys and we enjoy listening to.

The Rhythm section with stylish Roger Inniss on his six-string bass has given Laurence a fellow musician to bounce his intuitive riffs and licks off so that the sound is full with a quality of timing that you get when you understand the people you are playing with; and the drumming by Miri Meittinen is inspired with deft swipes of the cymbals embellishing the vocals on tracks such as Evil. The next track has a swampy southern feel that has a driving beat that is infectious and certainly gets the feet tapping the guitar work is impeccable and like the song touches moonlight.
We have the addition of the sparkling female vocals of Sandi Thom duetting on the single from the album Don’t Look Back. And as his career grows this is a young man who definitely has lots to look forward to. This is a gentler number that allows the guitar to bend around the melody line and the vocals blend together this is a track steeped in harmonies creating a sound that should get airplay across the stations. All I Need opens with drums and a deep bass line that allows the guitar and vocals to sing at a higher pitch, this is blues that has a popular appeal that will win him even more fans. We have a different tempo and texture with Good Morning Blues, with a spoken intro and then hard snake bitten driven blues guitar that pumps out the bottom line with his voice searing through the beat sets down a track full of energy, interest and certainly one of the highlights for me with its dirty feel and authenticity of timing and style.
Nearer the End is there going to be a gentle ending now we have another change in tempo and vocal direction as the second guest fellow RUF record artist Dana Fuchs joins the Laurence Jones party. This rocking number, Can’t Get Enough, has a chorus line that is infectious and live will get the crowds singing, Dana’s vocals are full of grit and blues moodiness that reflects the beat and then serenades with Laurence this is such a catchy R’n’ B number it oozes style and popularity.
Closing with a track always popular when you hear Laurence live is Stop Moving The House, ending a party of an album with stylish keys as Laurence begs the House to stop moving following a night out on the town. The track finishes the album on a high leaving you wanting more – easily remedied catch Laurence live at a town near you.
The album benefits from the addition of keys to the bedrock of the band; delivered by Jools Grudgings or Lewis Stephens and fine backing vocals from SJ Mortimer. The production by Roger and Laurence shows what all round talent this young man is with his superlative guitar work across the eleven tracks; vocals that emotionally engage with the lyrics, melody and listener as he delivers songs that highlight his songwriting skills. This third Laurence Jones album; What’s It Gonna Be is definitely the best yet with a continuing growth in vocal delivery augmenting the guitar playing he has always been recognised for. He is becoming the real deal when delivering British blues that rocks, rattles and pleases.

Bluesdoodles gives this CD NINE doodle paws out of TEN ….pawprint half inch
Track Listing

1. What’s It Gonna Be
2. Don’t Need No reason
3. Evil
4. Touch Your Moonlight
5. Don’t Look Back (Feat. Sandi Thom)
6. All I Need
7. Being Alone
8. Good Morning Blues
9. Can’t Get Enough (Feat. Dana Fuchs)
10. Set It Free
11. Stop Moving The House

Band
Laurence Jones – Vocals and Guitars
Roger Inniss – Bass
Miri Miettinen – Drums

Additional musicians
Keyboards Julian ‘Mr Jools’ Grudgings & Lewis Stephens
Backing Vocals SJ Mortimer

Special Guest
Sandi Thom (track 5)
Dana Fuchs (track 9)

CD Review – Vargas Blues Band ~ From The Dark

From the Dark 001Vargas Blues Band
From The Dark
Off Yer Rocka Recordings

Javier Vargas fronts the band, his musical influences have been shaped by living in Argentina and Venezuela, moving to the USA and living in Spain. Having played the guitar for most of his life firstly a Spanish Guitar moving onto electric guitar at twelve it isn’t surprising that this album is guitar driven rock that draws its influences from many musical streams including the blues.
Vargas Blues Band, From the Dark have created a true crossover sound melding and blending musical textures and tones to create a sound that is uniquely his. This is the album that showcases his stellar guitar skills with intuitive and slide guitar and lead breaks that soar and crash melodically into the support of the rhythm section. The cherries on top of this musical cake are the vocals of Gaz Pearson, as they articulate and flow around the words that wrap around the guitar creating a homogenous sound making this album stand out from the crowd.

The album opening track makes a statement from the off with Bye Bye Zombie this is a crescendo of sound punctuated with some stylish use of the wah-wah pedal in the solo’s that gets your musical ear engaged you want to hear the rest of the album.
We have a change of beat and emphasis with Latino driven blues riffs on Moon Light Blues, this track cements the power of Gaz’s vocals and Javier’s guitar work and the only time the hints of his South American influences are heard.

This is an album that has tracks that have a beat and rhythm that would fit into many a radio station, coincidently both starting with ‘R’; Radioactivity and Runaway. It is his trademark slide guitar with its bluesy sound that gives this album a tone not found on energetic guitar-centric rock inspired music full of melodic power chords and searing bending of the strings with a twist of the blues added to the mix.

The cover of Palace Of the King has great backing vocals but this track has been re-hashed so many times it does not add anything to the album, From the Dark would be just as good without another variant of this perennially recorded ad-played anthem.

Roy’s Blues and Esperanto draw the album to a close and it is that combo of Vargas and Pearson that lingers on and makes this album an enjoyable listen

If you love guitar with attitude and lots of tonal texture combined with powerful vocals, from a guitarist who has played with an eclectic mix of stars including Prince, Chris Rea, Frank Marino, Junior Wells, Glen Hughes & Devon Allman on stage and in the studio; delivering music that refuses to be of-a-type, then this is an album for you.

Bluesdoodles gives this CD SEVEN doodle paws out of TEN ….pawprint half inch

Band Members
Javier Vargas: Guitar
Gaz Pearson: Vocals
Luis Mayuo: Bass
Peter Kunst: Drums
Additional Musicians
Tamas Szasz: Keyboards
Roberto Daiqui: Spanish Guitar
Special Guest: Backing Vocals
Dani Wilde & Chris Jagger

Track Listing
1. Bye Bye Zombie
2. Let It Go
3. Moonlight Blues
4. Runaway
5. Palace of The King
6. Radioactivity
7. Inner Sun
8. Stealer of Love
9. Out Of The Dark
10. Roy Blues
11. Esperanto