Riffs! Lots of ‘em! That’s one of the key attractions that emerges from Deliverance, the third album from The Milk Men. Guitarist Adam Norsworthy seems to have a knack for coming up with riffs that create an immediate point of interest in many of the songs here. And I’m not talking about big beefy slabs of powerchord here. There are some meaty instances of rhythm guitar to be sure, but often what Norsworthy conjures up are byzantine affairs that certainly pique my interest.
The riffs aren’t the long and the short of Deliverance though. The brisk opener may feature a winding staircase of a guitar line, but it also introduces us to the husky voice of singer Jamie Smy, which has a hint of Family’s Roger Chapman but without the Larry the Lamb vibrato. Then there’s the snapping snare drum of Mike Roberts, whose drum sound is excellent throughout, and a bass solo delivered by Lloyd Green. Yep, you read that right, a bass solo – and marvel of marvels, it’s good too!
|The Milk Men - "So you reckon you parked the float along here?"|
They’ve got some good hooks too, on the following ‘When The Blues Come Callin’’ and especially ‘Little Miss Attention’, which is really just a piece of rock’n’roll but is still just dandy, ta very much. Kicking off with kicking drums and thrumming bass, it’s got another zig-zagging guitar line, a twangeroonie solo, and an “ooh la la la” chorus redolent of Cockney Rebel’s ‘Make Me Smile’.
In fact one of the defining characteristics of the album is just how many ideas The Milk Men manage to pack into a three and a half minute song, without overloading it. ‘Make You A Liar’ combines a spooky, bendy guitar line with a Psycho Killer-ish bass line to create a moody tone, but later on bright chords lend variation, along with a shift in Smy’s vocal, and an anthemic, doubled up guitar solo. ‘Sail Away’ blends another twister of a riff with elastic band bass, some Beatle-ish harmonies, and then crunching chords and thumping drums, before getting all epic with a sharp guitar solo over a Zep-like descending theme and hushed vocal ooh-ing.
‘Taking Her Time’ takes a tense, taut riff that’s got a glimmer of the Stones about it. (You see what I did there? Glimmer, Stones – no?). It also has the humour to add a dollop of cowbell to its mix of equal parts gritty soulfulness and melodic rock. ‘Why Can’t You Stay’, meanwhile, has a gentle and dreamy vibe, with another touch of the Fab Four about it, and shows off Smy’s ability to bring a different style to the mic, as well as a sun-dappled, Clapton-toned guitar solo from Norsworthy. And they even nudge into Blondie-style New York new wave territory with the punk-ish riff on the brief ‘Bad Girl’.
They get a bit bluesier on the closing brace of tracks, ‘Alive’ and ‘One More Day’, on both of which Gareth Huggett guests on harmonica. The former comes with a funky, twirling riff, a fun bass part and a dentist drill guitar solo, while the latter is slower, more old-fashioned R’n’B with slide guitar interjections – though they still give it a bit of a modern polish. Funnily enough, I found these closing blues-inflected tracks a tad less interesting – but only a tad. On the whole though, gotta say the material kept me pretty well entertained and intrigued throughout.
The sound is crisp and clear throughout, with space for everyone to shine – which is credit to the ubiquitous Wayne Proctor, who took care of the mixing, and as previously indicated has done a damn good job of projecting Mike Roberts’ snapping drums. Mind you, here and there I might have liked things dirtied up a touch more, a bit more full-fat than semi-skimmed if you like. (I hope you appreciate the effort that’s going into this, by the way.) But really that’s just a quibble.
Deliverance is the work of professionals – well put together songs, well arranged, well played, and well produced by Adam Norsworthy. I enjoyed it. If you’ve a hankering for British blues-rock that leans towards the melodic end of the spectrum, then get on The Milk Men's float.
Deliverance was released on 29 May 2020, and you can get it here.