304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
Bluesdoodles rating: 5 Doodle Paws – a stupendous album that I had to keep reminding myself is a debut…the skills on display here will be the envy of many an established band. It is a far-reaching collection of blues-based rock with many, many added elements that only repeated listens will truly reveal. Do yourself a favour and give it a listen and then buy it.
I love receiving music from new bands and this one’s a corker…from the deep south (of England in Portsmouth) comes a talented band that takes the blues-rock of early Whitesnake, replaces DC with two female vocalists, employs a guitarist that can do the Moody slide and the Marsden subtlety and a rhythm section that bring technical ability by the bucket load but know how to make it flow and fit and stamp their own personalities on it. Put that together and you get Brave Rival, a band that if there’s any justice will be ‘the next big thing’. They do cite their influences as John Mayer, Aretha Franklin, Heart, Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin and Tedeschi Trucks without any mention of ‘Snake but the overall feeling I get when I listen to the blend of blues-rock and hints of soul, is pre-hair DC, although I can see where they’re coming from with that list too.
They have already had the acknowledgement of the UK Blues Awards with the “Best Emerging Band’ title and, after battling through the difficulties the pandemic presented them, have at last got their debut studio album out. (They did release a live album in 2020 called Live at the Echo Hotel Music Club which had early runouts of four of the tracks on the new album.) A Kickstarter campaign gave them the wherewithal to begin recording this studio debut and that was when the pandemic delayed everything. Not to be beaten, the band resorted to Zoom to continue the writing processes and finally, as restrictions were relaxed, they went into The Mayfair Studio in Surrey and put together this excellent collection of twelve tracks called Life’s Machine.
Having dealt with that, the all important music this band are creating is a heady mix of blues, soul and rock. It began after they were ‘discovered’ on YouTube by Gibson guitars which led to their appearance at a multitude of events around the world and the achievement of being the resident band at The Cavern Club (that Liverpool club where some 60s band or other made their name!) plus tours in support of some major bands: Joe Bonamassa, Joe Satriani, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, The Temperance Movement,
It kicks off with Heart Attack, a solid rocker with a lovely bluesy riff, keyboard washes and a superb bass line…then the alternating vocals and harmonies of Chloe and Lindsay bring it truly alive. The guitar is a clever mix of chord and picking to add to the melodies and then delivers a very good, fluid and crafted solo that leads to a quiet section before it returns to the riff and chorus…a great start.
Guilty Love brings a hint of funk to a simple and effective backing and the structure harks back to arena rock from the 80s…but without losing bite. More great keys, bass and drums and another suitably constructed solo. Without You starts with some delicious vocal interplay and harmonies that build to a bluesy rocker with operatic leanings and pop sensibilities…sort of! A classy guitar solo rounds it off nicely. Run & Hide is a heavier rock song with a rapid backing that drummer Donna fits astounding fills into without breaking time. It even has a touch of Priest at times but those delightful harmonies keep it very Brave Rival and yet another tasty guitar solo that is pure rock but with taste not flash.
Back to solid blues with the slow, Free rolling backing and riff of Come Down. It may be ‘classic’ heavy blues but it has a new identity in these capable hands and voices. The backing quietens to give the carefully paced and crafted solo room to bloom as Ed uses space to speak as loud as the notes. One word of warning: the high vocal notes toward the end will attract your dogs…my two Westies loved it! What’s Your Name Again? is a morning after the night before song when, awakening with no memories of an alcohol-fuelled night, a glance at the pillow alongside prompts the title’s question…not the smut of DC’s thinly veiled innuendo, but a mucky tale of a one night stand set to reverberating keys, slide interjections and the confessional vocals before it erupts beautifully into a slide driven blues song of sheer quality….the slide solo doesn’t disappoint either as it glides around the melodies and shows real bottleneck finesse.
Secrets is funky, rocky blues with a genius intro of bass, drums and guitar working together to introduce the main, sparse riff as the vocals bring soul to the blues in a tale of being cheated and lied to. More brilliant bass and drum fill that make every note worth listening out for as the vocals pour ire down on whoever the guilty party is before another quality guitar solo. Long Time Coming slows the pace for a heartfelt, soulful blues: picked chords glisten over subtle bass and gentle snare rim hits. It builds to an emotional chorus that slightly borrows from a Sam Cooke song, I think, but remains all Brave. The Bravian Choir join in for the soul-drenched close.
Thin Ice moves back to blues-rock with a hefty backing to funky chord work and catchy as hell riff that interjects between verses…a pedalled guitar solo brings mid-song drama before the ladies take it back and power to the end. Fool Of You has a gospel feel to the intro as the vocal places you in a southern church before funky blues take over. Apologies to the rest of the band, but I listened to the bass more than the rest (not just because I’m a failed bass player) as Billy plays a symphony of his own that somehow fits seamlessly with the complex blend of soul, gospel, rock and blues.
Break Me is about two women embroiled in a love triangle (not, I’m sure, autobiographical) with more gospel tints behind the slow heavy blues. The main instrumental melody employs known tropes but, wrapped in the cinematic reach of this stunning song, it works and enhances. It quietens down for the superb just enough notes guitar solo before climaxing with the Bravian Choir, Lindsay and Chloe, as we used to say when I was a lad, giving it rice! The final track, Life’s Machine, is the only true ballad and is a suitably heart-wrenching way to end with a tale of loss…bizarrely perhaps, this is only dark if you let it be song brings Nightmare era, Cooper, to my mind with the drama, tension and emotions in the vocals matched by the whole band and the addition of a grand piano is inspired.
I had to keep reminding myself that this is a debut album…the skills on display here will be the envy of many an established band. It is a far-reaching collection of blues-based rock with many, many added elements that only repeated listens will truly reveal. Do yourself a favour and give it a listen and then buy it.
Run & Hide
What’s Your Name Again
Long Time Coming
Fool Of You
Chloe Josephine: Vocals
Lindsay Bonnick: Vocals
Ed Clarke: Guitars
Billy Dedman: Bass
Donna Peters: Drums / Percussion
Jonny Henderson: Hammond organ and keys
Ian Shepherd: grand piano on ‘Heart Attack‘ and ‘Life’s Machine’
‘The Bravian Choir’ Backing vocals: Amba and Leonie Tremain, Bradley Jago Jackson, Marlene Hill, Olivia Haggarty and Faye Carpenter.
07/05/2022 – Lincoln Rock & Blues Festival 2022
08/05/2022 – Bilston Rock & Blues 2022, Robin2
19/05/2022 – Bannermans Bar – Edinburgh
20/05/2022 – Parish Hall – Sedgefield
11/06/2022 – Brave Rival Album Launch, Echo Hotel Music Club, Hook
16/06/2022 – Tring Blues Club
21/06/2022 – Tuesday Night Music Club, Coulsdon
26/06/2022 – Cleethorpes Blues Rhythm & Rock Festival 2022
07/07/2022 – Bullfrog Blues Club, Southsea, Portsmouth
14/07/2022 – The Beaverwood, Chislehurst
31/07/2022 – Uckfield Blues and Roots Festival 2022
05/08/2022 – Jolly Sailor – Southsea
16/09/2022 – Cheese and Grain – Frome (supporting Laurence Jones)
07/10/2022 – The 1865 – Southampton (Supporting Laurence Jones)
05/11/2022 – Coolham Music Club (Supporting Catfish)
11/11/2022 – Hallelujah Festival – Hartlepool
13/11/2022 – The Musician – Leicester
15/11/2022 – The 100 Club – London (Supporting Corky Laing)
16/11/2022 – The Bullingdon – Oxford (Supporting Corky Laing)
19/11/2022 – Parish Hall – Sedgefield (Supporting Corky Laing)
20/11/2022 – Whitby Blues Festival – Whitby
(iTunes moved onto a little known but quality single by Sweet vocalist, Brian Connolly called Hypnotise but with a ‘z’ as it was written by Fandango guitarist Rick Blakemore (yes, really!))