The Della Grants, keep on giving their blues with a twist. Ten tracks on Live Room Sessions are a mix of something old, something new and lots of blue. The only cover is Too Fast, notably recorded in the past by Creedence Clearwater Revival. The rest are Della Grants compositions, the album recorded live in July 2017 in the White Room at Yellow Bean Studios, West End Leicester.
Opening with Lay My Head, the harmonica leads us into the tone and texture of the album building the tempo as drums join the party your feet are already tapping this is Blues that fits the bill. Max’s vocals are crisp and have a tonal quality that is tinged with devilment and a rough edge that bites into the lyrics and spits them out across the instrumentation. The band are playing and breathing as one no one will be laying down their head in despair while The Della Grants are playing. This is one of the four tracks included from their Time For Change album – Too Fast, Fairground Soul and Weaker Man. Fairground Soul, we now are off down the country road, the soulfulness of Max’s vocals give a gentler reprise to a song steeped in sadness and regret. Weaker Man takes us to an age of jazz and bootleg spirit and speakeasies. It’s the tonal notes of the Trumpet that paints this visual picture from the sound. The song may be about a Weaker Man as Max’s tones are reminiscent of Marcus Bonafanti there is nothing weak about the number. These four tracks show the depth of approach to the music they love, but what do the new numbers say?
The quartet of new tracks The River, Sunrise, Midnight Special and William Clay ensure the album has something new to add to the band’s discography. Stinging guitar drives the numbers crisp and melodic and capturing the essence of the blues. The vocals are deeper and act as a counterbalance to the guitar. The River is confident and the development of the band’s skills are evident in the flowing combination of instruments and vocals. This is a river not ideally flowing but determined and knows the direction it wants to go. The river is a metaphor as he sings “I know things are going wrong. Take me back to the place where the river flows. We all have that place that makes us stronger in darker times.” The musicianship is blistering.
Following on with a change of tempo and tonal shape as we greet the day with Sunrise. Another reflective number, making sense of life and finding a reason in a person as you see the sunrise on your face. A gentler song easy on the ear with wonderful keys underlying the melodic shape of the number.
Midnight Special is not captured in the witching hour. The narrative of the lyrics starts with waking up in the morning. Then the gospel-infused chorus refrain with “Let The Midnight Special, Shine a Light on Me”. This is an upbeat foot-stomping number, played live no audience could resist the invitation to sing the chorus with feeling.
Last of the new numbers William Clay, starts at a pace with a harder beat and honky-tonk piano accompanying the uplifting vocal delivery. This is about trying to be someone else and becoming at ease with yourself. With William Clay, goes by the name Memphis Bill, we are on Beale Street catching snatches of this tale. Including “Stay Young Don’t Ever Get Old”. The Della Grants are full of youthful vim and vigour delivering 21st century blues.
Closing out the live sessions with Red Mist, from their First fix EP still played with the anger you feel when you see the red mist coming over your eyes. This high energy track leaves you with the enduring memory that this is a band you want to hear live and in the meantime, you have The Della Grants Buzzing throughout the Live Sessions Album. Blues with a twist that adds spice but never loses its integrity still is the music of the folk.
There are so many elements that set The Della Grants apart. The distinctive vocals that growl and rumble with melodic swampiness. The combination of instruments including harmonica and trumpet and driving rhythms. They should be in such demand on the blues circuit. This is blues with a Leicester delta twist, but importantly the band is The Della Grants buzzing throughout the Live Sessions Album. The music flows, ebbs and flows but is never stagnant with the inherent energy of a band playing with feeling, soul and the fluidity of playing live.
NINEdoodle paws out of TEN …
- Lay My Head
- The River
- Too Fast
- Fairground Soul
- Midnight Special
- William Clay
- More Than Pray
- Weaker Man
- Red Mist
Max Manning – Vocals and guitar
Tom Best – Vocals, guitar & Harmonica
Andy Boulton – Bass Guitar
Tom Walker – Drums
Tony Robinson – Keyboard & Trumpet
Producer: Jez Burns