Coolhand play the blues on a self-titled debut album that delivers a dozen self-penned numbers that shine a light on the many talents in the band both musically and lyrically and there are times when this up and coming band show a hint of the dragon fire they can deliver. This is an album full of potential with its crisp, perhaps at times too studio driven, production by Luke himself combined with the obvious musical skills within the band with Luke Bradshaw’s stylish electric guitar, Darren Edwards vocal prowess and the stylish piano playing from Gareth Kedward.
Opening with Virtual Love with a look at living outside of life in a virtual world lyrically hitting the spot and showing the blues credentials. Summertime Shuffle is upbeat but needs more foot tapping ‘get up and dance’ energy to let the sun melt the cool exterior of the bands controlled musicianship. Deadman’s Hand has a touch of country in the twang of the guitar suiting the lyrics and the story of Wild Bill Hickok, this is a track that you want to listen to again. Half way through the album we have some drama on the intro to Hardly The Time with the piano a perfect fit in the instrumentation with the guitar solo maintaining an energy and drive.
If the intent is to bring blues with meaning for a contemporary audience they are close to achieving this goal as the lyrics are beautifully sung by Darren and the words tell a story that is worth listening to; we need some passion and modern twists to really get contemporary blues the Coolhand way delivered. The guitar needs at times to zing a bit more to punctuate the message, though it is great to see a band that is not depending on power guitar to fill out the tracks. Give Love A Chance is a change in tempo and sits well on the album showing the depth and understanding Coolhand have for the music they are producing.
The album does work well, and is listenable and worth returning to again and the gems sparkle melting the cool of the hands that are making blues and the flow of the album works though personally I would have ended the album with a different track J&J is just too subdued a great piece of music for earlier on with its dedication to Luke’s two boys and personal message as it ends the album with a whimper rather than a shout for me Stand Up would have been a great closer as there is an energy that makes you take note of the name Coolhand.
As the band develops we will see a little less stylised blues riffs and more dragon fire to make Coolhand really standout from the crowd.
Bluesdoodles gives this CD SIX doodle paws out of TEN ….
1. Virtual Life
2. Summertime Shuffle
3. Dead Man’s Hand
5. Such A Fool
6. Hardly The Time
7. Looking Back
8. Give Love A Chance
9. Stand Up
10. Pretender Love