304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
Bluesdoodles rating: 4 Doodle Paws – a wonderful album full of stellar performances from a very capable band topped off by Emma’s engaging vocals. It is a mark of a strong album when you want to listen to it repeatedly to glean every nuance from the well-written songs.
I often say how much I like to receive music from new artists…I like it, even more, when the artist hails from my (original) neck of the woods. Although born and raised in a small pit village in County Durham, my first house was in Acklam as I worked in Stockton and my wife in North Ormesby. Many memories of concerts in The Crypt at the Town Hall and The Redcar Bowl as well as the multitude of Working Men’s Clubs. My age (I’m old!) and another work move to the South West means I didn’t see or hear a remarkable Teeside talent called Emma Wilson. She came to my attention after her appearance at the Tribute to Jack Bruce alongside my hero, Bernie Marsden and many others. Emma released a couple of EPs in 202 and this full-length studio debut is all original although some of her influences, Ann Peebles, Aretha, Mavis Staples, Little Feat, Robert Cray, and The Faces, may show through but rest assured it is all Emma. So expect some blues, soul, rock and the odd hint of country with a talented and experienced band supplying solid, effective backing to Emma’s vocal dynamic.
The opening title track begins with a simple, deeply atmospheric bass line with bass drum and sparing hi-hat backing the sparkling guitar picked chords and slide and Emma joins in with a restrained but passionate vocal…it adds up to old blues with a tasty modern sheen. A great low down guitar solo adds to the whole thing and the last few seconds is just that genius bass with the unvarying three-note riff to the fade…a song worthy of the entrance fee before we get to the nine. Next up is Mary Lou, and a sepia-tinted blues on this one: the melody plays with familiar patterns but this gentle song is irresistible, especially with the bass and guitar backing fascinating throughout and the guitar solo adding some imaginative and original touches.
Little Love Bite is soulful blues…the love bite is on her shoulder and probably figurative! The vocal is expressive, emotive and backed by drama laced guitar with some clever chord work sprinkled through and a tasteful equally expressive solo. Rack ‘Em Up is a drinking, not snooker, song with a bouncy backing to Emma’s storytelling…she has the knack of clear enunciation so that we can enjoy the lyrics without losing any of the passion. More hints of soul in a bluesy song that could well provide wholehearted audience participation…of the chorus and the drinkies! A brilliant guitar solo adds to the atmosphere of (to steal the latin phrase of a well-known company) “nunc est bibendum” which means now we drink!
Blossom Like Snow is a different and creative lost love song with a complex and almost offbeat percussion, that shouldn’t work with the sweet vocal melody, but it all comes together and works nicely…especially on subsequent listens. More soul blended blues with so much to listen to: the guitar behind the vocal at the fade is genius. She Isn’t You has a Motown feel but with a blues band playing the chopped chords, wah’d guitar and rolling bass. True blues come in with a vengeance on the upbeat Not Paying…well, blues with some surf guitar edginess and a spoken/sung vocal with power and meaning. A short harp solo appears out of nowhere and fits like a glove. Nuthin’ I Won’t Do keeps the pace up with a great bass line, chopped chords and a sweet vocal that conveys so much…especially when you listen to the story. Then rapid ‘clapping’ and a foot drum provide the sparse backing for a rock ’n’ roll style guitar solo. A totally original song that is unclassifiable but brilliant.
Back On The Road is a clever blend of jazz, blues and country and (perhaps) a strange format for a touring song…whatever, the individual elements once again add up to a great listen. The final track, Then I’m Gone, is a dramatic, soulful blues with a superb vocal and a full tapestry of sounds that your ears will delight in unpicking.
This may not be out and out blues, but there is plenty to be found if you listen…it is full of stellar performances from a very capable band topped off by Emma’s engaging vocals that have a startling ability to convey the words/story clearly and passionately. It is a mark of a strong album when you want to listen to it repeatedly to glean every nuance from the well-written songs.
Wish Her Well
Little Love Bite
Rack ‘Em Up
Blossom Like Snow
She Isn’t You
Nuthin’ I Won’t Do
Back On The Road
Then I’m Gone
Emma Wilson: Vocals
Mat Hector: Drums, Percussion & Backing Vocals
Mark Neary: Bass & Keyboards
Adam Chetwood: Guitars
Alessandro Brunetta: Harmonica on “Not Paying”.
Recorded at Jackdaw Studios, Kent
(iTunes showed its/my diverse collection as I listened to the joyous, complex punkish rock of Empath and their 2022 album, Visitor…imagine Blondie with prog tendencies!)