The Dutch band Sweet Bourbon was formed in early 2014 by Martijn Cuypers and Chris Janssen, and the recent arrivals of Willem van der Schoof, Roeland van Laer and René van Onna, form the current line-up. With the addition of the Bourbonettes: Sonja Walters, Suzan Wattimena and Laura van der Vange they gave themselves a fuller, rounder sound to exploit as they recorded their latest release, entitled Night Turned Into Day.
The album opens with 2nd Wall Street, a rocker with a hint of funk layered on. Apparently based on a real story about a drunken car driver who is stopped by the police this has a very good guitar led riff holding everything together while swirls of Hammond help light it up. Vocally strong too, with Rene van Onna having a voice ideal for this style of blues and he is ably backed up by the Bourbonettes. A traditional blues shuffle next with Texas Woman: more of the same with guitar and Hammond leading the way and providing delightful solos. A funky bass line introduces Cool Down and then a seamless build into the guitar and keys. The guitar solo impresses and this time the key solo is piano funk, backed by great rhythm guitar sound. Blue Wonder is a six-minute ballad, where the background vocals really pull the song and the lyrics together. Acoustic rhythm background swirls beneath the electric patterns and the keys giving it a depth before the chord-driven keys solo takes it to another level. Kicked Me Out has a jazzy feel with the bass and drums starting a groove that the rest of the band pick up and run with. A short but sweet guitar solo leaves me wishing that it was extended instead of the overlong fade. Bass and drums to the fore again on I Do not Care as they back the slinky slide guitar intro. Then, always a delight for me, a nicely played slide solo.This Year’s Destination is a blues/jazz hybrid which, with rampant keys actually works and doesn’t descend into unintelligible freeform playing, but lays the blues over the jazz piano background and a semi-acoustic guitar that has that warm Gibson ES-355 sound. Got to Say Goodbye is another long, slow ballad, opening with a simple picked guitar and empathetic backing from the whole band. Sung with real feeling and atmospheric backing from the ladies, it is not so much blues as a rock ballad in the finest traditions. A fine guitar solo with hints of the way Mick Ronson used to use one note, played well, instead of twenty played needlessly. The fade also reminds me a little of With a Little Help From My Friends, but this does not detract. A healthy bit of swing takes us into Blinded where guitar and keys play in harmony through the intro. This is enjoyable enough, but the least immediate song on the album with Rene calling up his hidden Satchmo in his intonations. Swans is a slow paced, true blues-rock ballad, with the intro conjuring thoughts of live versions of Jon Lord era Whitesnake’s Ain’t No Love. A carefully paced Hammond solo makes that comparison even more valid. The closing track, Enfants Terribles, is a funk-ish instrumental, with a great lead guitar melody and piano working together to keep your foot tapping.
In summary, then, this is a hugely enjoyable album with very few misfires. There is nothing dramatically new, but we do get a solid batch of well-written and well-performed songs. If you like swirling Hammond through Leslie’s sound you will enjoy the regular appearance of said organ. Guitar lovers are catered for too with some tasty rhythm and lead playing, all backed by a solid bass and drums throughout.
SEVENdoodle paws out of TEN …
Kicked Me Out
I Don’t Care
This Year’s Destination
Got To Say Goodbye
Roeland van Laer – Bass
Rene van Onna – Lead Vocals & Acoustic Guitar
Suzan Wattimena, Sonja Walters – Backing Vocals
Chris Janssen – Guitars
William van der Scoof – Hammond
Martjin Cuypers – Drums
Laura van der Vamge, Sonja Walters, Suzan Wattimena – Backing vocals (The Bourbonettes)