After catching The Rising Souls performing a short set at the Edinburgh Blues Club the other week, I reckoned their debut mini-album from 2014 might be worth a swatch. So here we have eight tracks from the Edinburgh trio, spread over 24 minutes or so. And it has to be said that it’s an encouraging effort. With Dave Archibald on guitar and head-turningly good vocals, Roy ‘Kelso’ Laing on bass, and Tom Reed on box and percussion, they manage to explore a variety of styles with a relatively limited palette.
|Rising Souls, sitting down|
Opening track ‘Don’t Say You Love Me’ is a woman-done-me-wrong protest with an air of work song about its chorus, sung over a nagging bass line. It also manages to encompass an overt nod to Marvin Gaye’s ‘Can I Get A Witness?’ The following ‘Monster’, meanwhile, offers a contrastingly cool, swinging slice of Bill Withers-like soul, with a light touch on guitar and cleverly phrased vocals from Archibald before he opens up with some urgency in the second half to insist to his girl that “I’m on my way!”
For me, ‘Steady’ and the trotting ‘Fool In Time’ provoke vocal comparisons between Archibald and Paolo Nutini. On these songs Archibald’s singing has a slightly drawling, quavery intonation, but the most significant point is that he doesn’t ‘Americanise’ his vocals. ‘Sail Along The Distance’, meanwhile, adds some mournful harp playing from Tom Reed to the mix, to complement its halting, shimmering arrangement. (Fun fact for trivia fans - on the original CD 'Sail Along The Distance' is mis-tagged as 'Man In Black', and vice versa.)
Nutini isn’t the only resemblance that springs to mind though. ‘Sorry That I Love You’ has a riff that suggests a Stones demo, complemented by a vocal that's less Jagger than rasping Paul Rodgers bluesiness. It's also a tune designed for relaxed booty-shaking.
Closer ‘The Boxer’ is more percussive, with a soulful chorus and some out of the ordinary, jazzy guitar chords, vaguely reminiscent of Steely Dan, and here and there conjuring up some faint, acoustic echoes of Foo Fighters’ ‘The Pretender’. But at the same time it’s a track that ploughs its own rootsy, acoustic furrow.
If this is the instrumental framework The Rising Souls intend to work with in the future, the challenge will be how to develop songs more fully, and in different directions. But this is a more than promising down payment for the full scale album they’re recording this summer.