Released just before Christmas, the pairing of two blues talents was realised on an album laced with funk and soul in the midst of blueness, called Soho Heart. Although their careers seem diverse at first, it soon becomes apparent that it is a matchless match…Katie Bradley is a formidable harp player and was rightly nominated in the 2012 British Blues Awards for a song (I Hear The River) off her debut album, She’s Ready. She is also an artist of some renown and even designed the cover of the album and provided illustrations for most of the songs. Peter Farrugia has, I’m sure he won’t mind me saying, been around a little longer and was instrumental (pun intended) in the success of bands such as Shout Sister Shout! and Mo’Indigo.
The eleven songs and one instrumental are all originals and the depth of their skills are apparent soon as the opening track, Tell Me About begins: snare and string bends lead into funky bass and an impassioned vocal; it has the late 50s feel with a tasteful and tuneful guitar solo. Katie Bradley and Pete Farrugia open up their Soho Heart.
What Tom thought about the tracks
I Already Know is slow blues that burns from the start as Katie matches the melody with a suitable pitched and meaningful vocal. The guitar is a delight throughout and the solo fits beautifully and has an almost Kossoff feel. The title track is Motown right down to the twang on the guitar and throbbing bass to the supreme vocals (pun intended).
Willow Man is next and isn’t a tribute to the large sculpture next to the M5 near where I live. It is slow, soulful blues that has sadness in the clever lyrics and instrumentation but, somehow, is still uplifting. This continues through the swelling Hammond section with a churchy echo.
Mysterious Ways is another bang up to date period song with a brilliant upright bass that needs to be listened out for as the band take a gospel trope and make it rather good; the guitar solo is inspired as Pete plays so cleverly with the melodies and tone.
Chickpea Curry is an instrumental with a Caribbean background. Generated by the percussion and piano, while the guitar speaks over it all in two separate, tonally different sections, that works very well.
Does Your Star Shine Brighter? With its multi-tracked Acappella opening leads into a slightly funky song that could have been in the singles chart in the 70s with a band like Boney M…except without half of them miming and only one actually contributing! Actually, it’s better than that because, as you listen to it, the catchiness and familiarity take hold and gets you involved.
Gaslight is next and is more soulful blues with great bass and guitar phrasing and (hurrah!) at last a harp solo that shows how damn good Katie is on the gob-iron (that slightly outré name is courtesy of Mr Ian Gillan!) This song is addictive…you’ve been warned.
Keep On Wishing is slightly funky and has a guitar phrase that will have you searching your music library to find what it reminds you of…answers on a postcard! Another example of how these two seem able to catch your attention, hold it and draw you in.
Take A Ride is more upbeat and 50s R’n’B shot through with soul…the rolling piano and snare work conjure that period brilliantly….until the lady delivers another neat, well thought out (and woefully short) harp solo.
Jump This Ship is back into funk but with enough blues and soul and guitar chord work that reminds me of Stevie Salas on his Colorcode album. The solo, however, is all Pete and damn good too, if too brief.
The final track, Raise The Game, moves back into slow soulfulness with another impassioned and effective vocal, with an inspired solo again from Pete that lifts this beyond songs of this ilk.
In summary then, a varied and enjoyable album that may be light on the blues but with enough to satisfy most of us – a bit more harp and even longer solos next time please!
Bluesdoodles Rating: 4 Doodle Paws; a Wonderful and varied album that may stray regularly from blues, but still has enough to satisfy all.
Tell Me About It
I Already Know
Does Your Star Shine Brighter?
Keep On Wishing
Take A Ride
Jump This Ship
Raise The Game
Katie Bradley: vocals, harp
Peter Farrugia: vocals, guitar, bass guitar
Dan Edwards: piano, organ
Marlon Farrugia: piano
Matt Hobson: percussion
Jamie Lawrence: double bass
Jason Smith: drums
Ron Roesing: drums
Dom Thatcher: horns, woodwind
(iTunes conveniently moved onto a song I first heard on the cover CD of Blues Magazine (when it was still available) and on CD14, called Factory Fresh, a certain lady called Katie Bradley was featured with a slide and harp drenched slice of loveliness called Long Way From Home.)