Bluesdoodles rating: 4 Doodle Paws – There’s a lot going on in these 5 numbers! Listening to these varied tracks ensures the E.P. is filed under B for brilliant.
This is the third release by the South London R&B trio, following on from their two previous albums, and, while this is only an EP, it has more variety and rich content than you’ll find in most long players. This is music that restores your faith in the power of music to lift you up and put a smile on your face while making your twinkle toes tap away to the beat.
It’s often amusing when musicians give a short description of what each song on their latest releases are about. Regardless of whatever deep-felt emotion, they may allegedly have felt when composing, the music often fails to live up to the promise of the ideas. In the case of this crew, while the music initially appears to be played with a charming and vibrant looseness, you quickly realise that there are some really interesting things going on, both lyrically and musically. For instance, how many blues bands do you know that feature a Senagalese musician playing a gourd kora (a lute-like instrument), which is the case here on “Can’t Cry No More” which features some beautiful interplay between Diabel Cissokho (guess which instrument he’s playing), who appeared courtesy of the internet and “CJ” Williams on acoustic guitar. The rhythmic accompaniment by “Sammy” Samuels on this track is brilliant.
“Mickey Two Suits” is a great title, and even more fun more when you learn that it’s taken from a list of banned customers from a now closed but once popular boozer, the Herne Hill Tavern. This harmonica driven instrumental has the sort of melodic groove that I could listen to all day long. No doubt they lock this down tighter than a rusted nut when playing live. The variety of these songs is again displayed on the next track in sequence, the haunting “Way to Lose”, which has a hypnotic picked guitar part in some kind of open tuning, accompanied by harp playing that sounds like the distant cry of a train heading through a dark night (Joff Watkins on harmonica is top notch throughout). It’s a lovely track and reminds me of something that John Renbourn might have played with Pentangle. “Show time” is a jaunty number in a very un-blues like waltz time signature, a dance hall drama.
I love it that the opening track “Ain’t Done Yet” was an attempt to do a contemporary song along the lines of Frank Sinatra’s “It was a Very Good Year”. There’s a lot going on in this song lyrically but, if there is one criticism of what is an excellent release, is that the singing throughout is more functional than inspiring and lacks a bit of clarity. This is a great track though, featuring some superb catchy sax riffs (played by guest Chris Rand), not to mention a guitar break, that like other tracks on this, isn’t a traditional “look at me” solo as such, but instead is, a musical passage where the musical soundscape shifts dramatically from S London to Mali, influenced by Ali Farka Toure. There’s a lot going on in these 5 numbers! Listening to these varied tracks really makes me want to catch these gents live. File under B for brilliant.
Ain’t Done Yet
Mickey Two Suits
Way To Lose
Can’t Cry No More (radio edit)