Broken Witt Rebels add that special dimension, evident since the first listen to Georgia Pines the stunning EP that introduced Bluesdoodles to the band. The new album OK Hotel first impressions, when will this stop being played on repeat. Why? The sound hits your musical equivalent of the solar plexus it is breath-taking. You instantly connect to the whole sound and then your ears begin to pick out the individual elements that make this sound distinctive, their own special bundle of musical dynamism. The Broken Witts are working-class lads from Birmingham. Their sound is a one-off, stands out from the crowd as they look forward re-shaping the music rooted in the past. Blending, Blues with Rock Nashville, with pop, and adding a great big spoonful of Witt, cheeking, forceful intimate and energising.
Running with the Wolves Again the opening track that reminds us we want to have the energy and verve that the band brings in our lives. Danny Core’s vocal power and dexterity hits you every time you hear it. Whilst the band enhances the tonal palette and underpins the lyrics. The lead break from James Tranter on guitar is pure energy unleashed and James Dudley’s drumming punctuates the melodic flow whilst Luke’s bass provides the glue that blends the sound harmoniously. They are back with a track that leads you into the album wanting more and at the same time for this track not to end. Running with the Broken Witt Rebels is always pure spine tingling, goose-bump pleasure.
Money, keeps up the blended tonal pace with a twist of funkiness the perfect second track grounding the album, there is a confidence that has been brashly displayed in previous recordings now tamed and perfectly formed. The title track with a melodic entry joined by a soulful vocal from Danny as the accelerator is lifted the pace slows and builds with dramatic effect. The lyrics form a poetic narrative, painting a visual picture of experiences of having stayed in many hotels, whilst on the road in a van.
The numbers move seamlessly on with new textures added to the mix, the nuances are enticing and you hear more with every listen. We are now Caught in The Middle., the depth is huge reflecting the deep blue sea of the lyrics. This is classic Witts and live will be uplifting and we will all sing the chorus, “On the last train home, I don’t want to stay here” – Danny’s voice has a brooding intimacy with the listener then breaks free with this anthemic number. The middle section of the album is full of up brooding intent as Danny and the band Take You Home; a number full of country, Nashville tones. The dexterity of the band is so evident with very note played and sung . James Tranter’s guitar leads us gently into Broken Pieces, a ballad that has no gentle inner soul. Listen to the words feel the beat and there is a dark interior where the broken pieces linger with hurtful intent. This is a track of beautiful playing and hits the mark.
Now they change the mood with Save My Life, starting slowly with Danny’s voice singing the lyrics with a yearning, leaving you wondering where is this number taking you with vocal harmonies as the intensity grows what is round the corner on this dark night. This is a questioning number full of sadness and limitations as they ask “how will we make ends meet?” The guitar once again adds an edge so we are not dragged into a maudlin morass. The tonal picture on Give It Up is similar as we hear “another day, another city…,” are they tired of the world they are passing through. The harmonising of the voices lifts this and adds a determined edge. Once again we are taken on a lyrically journey. We are travelling through the USA with a Brummie twang a perfect combo.
You can take it as a given that the voice and instruments will catch your ear, it is the depth and quality of the song writing that lifts the album for me every track has so much to say. It is flash fiction set to music, they cut to the kernel of the emotion they want to portray. In tracks no longer than three and half minutes, they say everything that needs to be said. There is a pithy, no nonsense clarity across the album. No frills, no unnecessary embellishments. They are honed to perfection.
Every song is a winner find out for yourself and you will not be disappointed. Moving on but not ignoring the quality of Around We Go, Fearless, and Love Drunk – leaving these for your own thoughts and imagination.
Closing the album out with Rich Get Richer, back with a funkier beat reflecting the influence of Blues often lying gently on their sound. The guitar squeals, and the lyrics, “the rich get richer, then you die” will resonate through your head long after the track falls silent. Leading into modern focus they close out with the thirteenth track, Birmingham “I can’t remember there being a song about Birmingham unless it’s Birmingham Alabama,” smiles Core. “But these are our experiences, this is where we’re from…” The lyrics once again steal the show listen, consider and listen again. Where ever they travel this tight-knit foursome will never cut the umbilical cord that connects them and their music to life experience of growing up in the West Midlands.
OK Hotel, blends and shapes and reforms the Witts musical energy. Relevant for the times we are living as the 21st-century tries to define itself in a world full of fear and uncertainty as old safety nets of the community are stretched and broken. This is the album that truly sets the bar high for a band that has found its voice and is tight and creatively forming an album full of light and dark and tempos that change and reform the listening pleasure of a quartet that as traveled a difficult road and now has the confidence to play the music they want us to hear and love.
Bluesdoodles rating: Stupendous – Powerful lyrics, melodic riffs and one for repeat listening
- Running With The Wolves Again
- OK Hotel
- Caught In The Middle
- Take You Home
- Broken Pieces
- Save My Life
- Give It Up
- Around We Go
- Love Drunk
- Rich Get Richer
Danny Core – Vocals
James Tranter – Guitar
Luke Davis – Bass
James Dudley – Drums
Produced by: Dwight Baker (The Wind and The Wave’s) at Bear Creek Studios, Austin, Texas
Record Label: Snakefarm Records