Metamorphosis. There’s a good word. You could say that in the course of 2016 The Rising Souls have metamorphosed, rather than gradually evolved, from semi-acoustic stripped back soul outfit to full-on blues-rockers.
If I can't nail some song titles, don’t blame me boys and girls. Half the songs they performed at this launch of the their new Set Me Free EP are so new they haven’t even been properly named yet, such is the surge of creativity the Souls are going through just now.
After roaring off the starting grid with the stonking riff of something that may yet be christened ‘I’m Coming’, they really get down to business with ‘Walk On’, on which a heavy, bass-laden riff and a Zep-esque feel still leave room for singer Dave Archibald to embark on a scat-singing break before guitarist Joe Catterson lets loose with a wailing solo.
|The Rising Souls - let there be Blues-Rock!|
Next up they get into a brooding vibe, with some positively Chris Isaak-leaning whammy bar antics from Catterson, and sleepy, drawling vocals before they launch into some crash bang wallop hard rock, with Archibald getting into full on Paul Rodgers mode.
‘Narcos’ is a steady throb interspersed with spiky chords, during which it becomes evident that Catterson has his own female fan club in the audience. More to the point though, he’s a guitarist who appears to be usefully intent on providing texture and colour rather than embarking on interminable bouts of shredding.
They slot a dreamy acoustic opening into one offering, before giving it some welly, but Archibald also retains the ability to write something in a Nina Simone-ish late night jazz mood. Those just serve to leaven the heavy stuff though, as they bring to mind modern rockers like Rival Sons as well as Zeppelin down the closing stretch. ‘Learn To Love Me’ has a huge riff, and a great strutting bridge featuring a change of tempo, but that’s just a prelude to some unnamed monster with a neck-snapping rhythm, and bright, slithery guitar. ‘Kelso’ Laing makes with a rumbling bass line, and the vocals seem to echo Deep Purple’s reading of ‘Hush’ before they go headlong into a storming conclusion featuring all-action drumming from new boy Reece Braid.
The title track from the EP demonstrates the range of Archibald’s vocals as they veer towards Doors territory, and also underlines his ability to come up with strong melodies and hooks. (I’m assuming here that he’s still the main writer in their new incarnation.)
The set closer is unnamed, so I’m going to name it. It’s called ‘Lay This Burden Down’. Got that, gents? Again there’s a Led Zeppelin component in evidence, but crossed with the soulfulness of Free – and it’s well and truly a big finish. For an encore Kelso leads them into a funky groove that may or may not be called ‘Give Me Your Love’, showing off those soulful roots as Archibald makes like Otis. Sort of.
It’s a brief set, and in truth some of the songs still feel under-developed. So there’s work to do, even if the adrenaline rush of the occasion made this set a blast. But the Souls have got a coherent sound, some strong material, and Dave Archibald still has a vocal that can turn heads. What’s next?
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