Daughter of a Bluesman delivers a Blues masterpiece
If you haven’t heard of Kyla Brox, then you are in for a treat…and some expense, as after listening to this, her latest album, you will want to buy her entire back catalogue. So, just in case you are new to her music…Kyla has been a professional musician since the age of twelve, initially with her father Victor, before starting her own solo career. All of her previous albums have been well received and she is now one of the most respected blues singers in the UK…in fact, in September 2018 Kyla won the 5th UK Blues Challenge ; she was a semi-finalist in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis and will represent Britain at the European event in The Azores. More details of Kyla’s travels are on Bluesdoodles, just put her name into the search facility and read on.
This new album, Pain and Glory, is a generous, sixteen-track set of funk and soul-infused blues with the odd hint of rock and pop…all backed by a talented band including husband Danny on bass. As there are sixteen tracks, I won’t address all of them…I will just set myself the difficult task of selecting the highlights.
Opening with For The Many, we are treated to a bouncy, horny, funky slice of clavinet backed blues…quite a mix, that Kyla carries off with ease, and it is so bouncy that it takes you with it and you will want to join the revolution, especially when you get a clavinet solo like this one. The title track must have been written with the phrase ‘slow-burn’ in mind, because the way it builds from the superb guitar backing with subtle keys and Kyla’s vocals are crystal clear whilst communicating that pain and hope leaves you in no doubt of the talent on display. Bluesman’s Child is autobiographical and, after a quiet start, it bursts into a joyful bounce with horns giving it a juke/jump feel. A couple of parping brass solos toward the end add to the party atmosphere. Bloodshot Sky is my current favourite with its down and dirty blues-rock riff with keys, guitar and bass in synch and a harmonica subtly playing in the background before earning a tasty solo. Chose Life has a lesson for us all in the lyrics and the way Kyla uses her considerable vocal range means I am just about converted! The middle section has some really clever piano phrases that I wish had lasted a bit longer. In The Morning is a blues shuffle with keys and horns to the fore as we are regaled with the story of an extra-curricular dalliance. A sax solo adds to the intrigue. Compromise has a delightful guitar intro and stays as the only backing until the band join in for the chorus. It is another atmospheric and lovely slice of soulful blues…and then, hooray! Farr gives us a superb (too short) guitar solo that has as much expression as the lyrics and the vocals. Lovers Lake has a captivatingly clever guitar intro and backing and I think, that yes Kyla, I’ll dive right in! This is like listening to a mix of Fleetwood Mac (the later fluffy version) as it shares some of their pop sensibilities with a Peter Green echo that brings an extra edge that is firmly rooted in blues. Top Of The World has effortlessly placed itself in the early R’n’B oeuvre and has a jaunty edge that the harp colours while the piano jumps nicely. The final track is that old Leonard Cohen dirge, Hallelujah… fortunately, Kyla and Farr put a whole new twist on it. Her vocals are exquisite and the acoustic guitar is just right and when he brings in some additional electric phrases, the song becomes what I think Cohen intended and would approve of. The guitar solo at the halfway point is sheer genius…I’m sure Farr is adding textures via the tightening/loosening of the machine heads as well as the volume control…if only it lasted longer! You will not be able to listen to this without shivers traversing the length of your spine… I guarantee it. It was only after a number of run-throughs and after my spine had recovered from this wonderful rendition that I upped the Doodle Paws from nine to ten…anyone that can sing like that, any guitar that sounds like that and any band that can bring it together in such a remarkable way has to get the maximum…it really is that special. OK, it’s not a song for every moment, but when the moment is right there isn’t a better one.
This is a wonderful album…a couple of weaker tracks are only weak by comparison, but that closer is so strong and so memorable, I would buy this and consider the other fifteen as bonus tracks. Add this to your blues collection… it has depth, blues and soul by the bucketful and enough variation to keep the interest from start to finish.
TENdoodle paws out of TEN …
For The Many
Pain & Glory
In The Morning
Let You Go
Away From Yesterday
Don’t Let Me Fall
Top Of The World
Composed by Brox, Blomeley and Farr, except Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen.
Kyla Brox: vocals
Danny Blomeley: bass
John Ellis: keyboards
Mark Warburton: drums
Paul Farr: Guitars
The Haggis Horns
Produced by Sam Brox, Danny Blomeley and Kyla Brox.
Sat 13th April – Ripley Blues Club, Ripley (duo)
Fri 26th April – Blues Awards Concert, Preston
Tues 30th April – The Bottleneck Blues Club, Rochester
Thurs 2nd May – Live In The North East, Percy Park RFC, North Shields (duo)
Sat 4th May – Barberaz, France
Fri 10th May – Summerseat Garden Centre, Summerseat
Wed 22nd May – Matt & Phred’s, Manchester (duo)
Sat 25th May – Bury Met Blues Night, Bury
Fri 31st May – Acoustic Festival Of Great Britain, Uttoxeter
Sat 8th June – Espace Culturel, Thomery, France
Fri 14th June – Club Motorsport, Le Mans (24 hour), France