Catfish the album Broken Man Making January Complete

Catfish the album Broken Man Making January Complete

 

Catfish the album Broken Man
Making January Complete

Catfish, that band creating a blue purring hum of pleasure whenever and wherever they play live. Catfish swims deep into the swirling maelstrom that is modern blues. The album is not a tribute or a painting by musical numbers of blues steps from the past it is influenced by music that connects to the band. With ten tracks with the only cover closing the album out. It is not from any blues back catalogue it is Foy Vance’s, Make It Rain. Included why? You ask, then having not seen a live performance of a track that moves people to tears holding the audience spellbound as the highlight of the evening unfolds.  Broken Man is not the band’s debut recording BUT more importantly, it is the first that is predominately their own work, setting down a high water mark.

Opening with Hit The Ground Running, Catfish certainly does with a driving upbeat fast blues ride. Introducing the depth of the band from Matt Long’s bluesy vocals and stinging guitar to a rhythm section that augments adding a rattlesnake sting to the music are bassist Dusty Bones and drummer Kevin Yates. Completing the quartet is Paul Long’s keys that dance with his vocals adding another vocal tone when he takes the lead.  The blues driven tone continues with Sometime Alone, where the power of Matt’s guitar shows that the six-strings can be played without shredding the skin of your finger and as a result the time, breath between chords gives the instrument colour and complexity. The keys add another player of chords with higher pitch and rolling, bending with the strings and rhythm section. This is music that conjures shapes and interest, pure pleasure like lying back on a warm summers day looking into a blues sky and conjuring patterns and shapes from clouds as they scurry past.

The tempo slows, the blue is darkening with dusky shadows as Matt sings All I Ask Of You, played with maturity and control the warmth of studio sound permeates throughout the album reflecting the live sound of Catfish. The slow piano and vocals in Part As Strangers, a soulful ballad with special guest Paul Jones adding his Harp sparkle. Blues stripped back to it is key components emotionally charged.  Following this is the title track, Broken Man a long track for a blues album at a shade over eight minutes, is this reflecting Matt’s love of Prog Rock I wonder. This is blues fuzzy, with a porch-step gravelly opening launching into an anthem of a track. A number praising the blues as the tones roll down from the hill country into the delta picking up and shaping the chords into a British blues hullabaloo of delight.  The lyrics are shaped by a darker guitar and keys as we are falling down under the Catfish spell.

Broken Man is definitely not Broken giving contemporary British Blues that resonates curling around your speakers with sparkling class. Catfish delight you when you hear them live, and with the songwriting glory that is Broken Man we have an album early on in the year that has to be a contender for Blues Album of 2017. This is a blues gem that is multi-faceted and a prism of blue hues that hits you from every direction.

TEN pawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN ….

Track Listing

  1. Hit The Ground Running
  2. Leading Me On
  3. Some Time Alone
  4. All I Ask Of You
  5. Never Go Back
  6. Better Days
  7. Part As Strangers
  8. Broken Man
  9. Big Shot
  10. Make It Rain

 

Malaya Blue Will Never Leave You Heartsick

AlbumArtwork_HighRes 020316Malaya Blue Will Never Leave You Heartsick

Two of the tracks were released as a double-sided single last summer, Hope & Let’s Reinvent. They have survived and are included in the album, the band though that supports Malaya Blue’s distinctive voice has been all change. The band with stunning production from Paul Long, capturing the tone that suits Malaya as her career progresses. The walk towards soulful jazz with the shading of blues continues apace. The band for the album recorded in The Grange Studio Norfolk are Dudley Ross, with the guitar playing that makes every lead break zing with anticipation, and alongside Dudley is keyboard player Paul Jobson and the synergy between them is natural. Added to this is a rhythm section that keeps the beat on an eye of the smallest needle, Stuart Uren bassist and drumming Andrew McGuiness. The reality is this is all window dressing for the heart of the album, Malaya Blue’s vocals which are drenched in soulful anguish as the album explores loves sharpest facets. The harp playing like a mirror bright and clear reflects the vocals from the lips of Paul Jones on Hunny Little Daydream & Let’s Reinvent (Love). Another guest is Carl Hudson whose piano playing enlivens the track To Remain The Same.

Opening with Heartsick the beat is driving with an uplift the opposite to what you expect. Malaya’s voice though is definitely Heartsick as she explores a disastrous relationship ignoring what Mama said to her peril! With Dudley and Paul opening with a guitar and keys exploring the chords, the drum picks up the beat and Malaya’s voice clear as bell curls her tongue around Colour Blind. Her voice is polished with a sheen that reflects the bands melodic line. Half way through the eleven track album is an upbeat statement I Have Arrived, full of confidence with a mix of sounds to underline who Malaya now is with a second studio album under her musical belt. Now for contrast a rhythmic opening with Dudley’s guitar blasting the way through for a gentler wistful Malaya. This is a Strand of Gold that is full of country soul the instrumentation shapes the mood. Bringing the album to a close is Hope the single we have all got to know and then the finale. This is drenched in slow emotion as the soul comes back and is it the cure for Heartsick the opening track?

The album crosses genres and has a mainstream feel. Perfectly formed for radio airplay and getting Malaya Blue the attention she is demanding on this crafted album. For me, the album and instrumentation is just that bit too crisp. Like a starched shirt, it lacks at times a natural flow to the singing. I want Malaya to loosen up relax and show a rougher, dirtier side of love some sweet sugar bowl blues would have given the album a deeper range. That said, it is an album with sex-appeal from guitar licks through to the carefully modulated shaping of lyrics and the clarity of Malaya Blue as she shares her feeling of being Heartsick.

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

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Track Listing
1. Heartsick
2. Hunny Little day Dream
3. Colour Blind
4. Let’s reinvent (Love)
5. To remain The Same
6. I Have Arrived
7. Strand of Gold
8. Share Of Love
9. Hope
10. Soul Come Back