One of the first lyrics from Rebecca’s wonderful singing tubes may be ‘Bad, bad feeling’ on the opening number Take Me Higher … having listened with pure joy to the review copy of the album a number of times no-one should not have a bad feeling about the album, More Sinner Than Saint. There are twelve gorgeous songs to explore, get to know and fall in live with the layers of intricate and melodic sounds. More Sinner Than Saint is sublime, no number is a sinner every note played every lyric sung is timed to perfection as the power and emotion ebbs and flows so the narrative builds and builds. Rebecca and her band and team around her have created an album that will stand the test of time. It has a magnificent sound, full on tonal shades and textural glory.
This album has liberated Rebecca’s wonderful singing voice building on her previous album Believe and letting the notes soar with rocking intent. Her vocals power through the lyrics shaping the songs inner soul with the dexterity of a singer-songwriter who has total belief and confidence in the collection she has gathered together for More Sinner Than Saint. The album as the essence of grit and determination combined with slower paced, gentler and reflective performances creating a work that has tonal delights and keeps your interest from the first note to the last.
Her band are stupendous, the rhythm section mix up the beat so we have the Downes magical blend of rock, soul, pop and blues. Lloyd & Dan truly deliver they are on the beat every time, the perfect rock face of sound for Rebecca to vocally leap from. The guitar, backing vocals and blues-harp from co-songwriter Steve is a masterpiece in understanding what the lead guitar brings to a song shaping the colour of the melody, stinging, sparkling or moody. He reflects every mood and nuance in the lyrics and captures them in his six-strings.
Hurts, this track is one of my many favourites, here Steve makes his six-strings sing in perfect harmony with the singer who is the heart and soul of the album. Underpinning this energy is the ground swell of drumming laying down a rhythmic chant that gives Hurts a stability that Rebecca can play with as her voice’s cadence changes as the hurt swirls around her deepening the tone with all the emotion that this pain brings to the narrative of this rock infused delight. With Me the opening melody and guitar phrasing is the perfect opening to this quieter reflective number. It is the slowing of the pace and inner tension between the instrumentation and vocals that gives this song the space to breathe and expand as the perfect number to bring the exciting journey through the dozen tracks to a close. Rebecca says take my hand – you are coming with me… yes we are for every musical twist and turn the album provides.
The title track, has to hold the album together have a sense of purpose and be a highlight, The band has achieved this with every note played and sung by her and the band. With its moody melodic opening as the keys are joined by drums, bass and guitar the musical tension draws you in as you wait for Rebecca’s voice to join the musical extravaganza. The vocal range starts off deep as she declares I am More Sinner Than Saint. Take the time to close your eyes let the lyrics be absorbed and listened to there is a narrative that deserves your attention and understanding, Then the crescendo as the track opens up and is in full bloom. More Sinner Than Saint is the glue holding the album in place the rock that binds the minds and souls that shape the sound, the beats and tempo vary full of light and shade we see both the sinner and the saint.
The album has two very special guests up first is King King’s guitarist and vocalist the one and only Alan Nimmo on If I Go To Sleep, sleeping is definitely not on the agenda during this scorching hot number. Opening with the harmonizing of vocals and the blues driven heat is captured as licks from Nimmo’s guitar mirror the soulful mood of Rebecca. This is an anthemic number with a huge chorus and will set a live venue alight. This is blues fuelled rock just turn-up the speakers and sit back and feel the mojo enter your soul. This is a number gifted with a double dose of musician magic dust!
The other guest is Magnum’s Tony Clarkin whose guitar solo is scintillating we have five minutes of magical musicianship as the voice of Rebecca meets Tony’s guitar. You have to remember to breathe as the music suspends reality as you listen in pure wonderment. Despite the use of two men at the helm of mixing the album, Bill Drescher & Chris Childs there is continuity the two masters of the mixing desks reflecting the style and shape Rebecca wanted to create on this album. Which is, without doubt, a coherent, musically intelligent and a tour-de-force of talent working in harmony. It has a narrative that is shaped by real life in its myriad challenges and rewards. We have hope and loss; love and hate; saint and sinners. One consistent force is the glory of Rebecca’s voice she is a diva in our hearts more saint than sinner musically.
Refusing to be defined by a genre Rebecca and the band caress, hug and squeeze the shape of the music suiting the mood, lyrics and narrative. Creating music that is simply brilliant!!!
Songwriting, production. Mixing and musicianship makes More Sinner Than Saint a stunning album. It is without argument Rebecca’s vocals powerful, warm, and emotive combine with her intelligent shaping of the lyrics that catapults the album into a stratosphere of its own. A real contender for Bluesdoodles album of 2019…
TENdoodle paws out of TEN …
+ Mixed by Thunder’s Chris Childs
# Mixed by Bill Drescher
Rebecca Downes (vocals)
Steve Birkett (guitars, slide guitar, blues harp, Backing vocals)
Rick Benton (keyboards)
Lloyd Daker (drums)
Dan Clark (bass)
Alan Nimmo (If I Go To Sleep)
Tony Clarkin (Breathe Out)