Sunday, November 8, 2020

Storm Warning - Different Horizons

It’s a shame that the first thing that most people will mention about Different Horizons, the fifth album from Storm Warning, is that guitarist Bob Moore passed away following its completion.  But I reckon the second thing many people will say is that Moore’s fine playing contributes greatly to making Different Horizons an impressive exploration of classic rock possibilities.
There’s blues in there to be sure, reflecting their blues-rock roots, most notably in the bright and
Storm Warning - eminent hipsters
 energetic boogie of ‘Come On In’.  But symptomatically, it’s R’n’B buffed up with extra refinements.  So singer Stuart Maxwell may deliver classy, old-fashioned harp, but he does so in the midst of Moore injecting fresh’n’fuzzy guitar breaks and keys man Ian Salisbury adding a synth solo.  Elsewhere, they get more adventurous.
They like to spread themselves, do Storm Warning.  The nine tracks here all run to over five and a half minutes, and they make good use of the time.  The opener ‘Horizons’ is certainly a positive example – a mid-paced, contemplative affair that starts with the swelling of ominous organ chords, pulsing drums and ticking guitar.  Then Moore picks out a subtle guitar motif, and with mounting urgency they create a platform for a range of striking guitar themes and textured breaks, before they downshift into an intriguing Moore solo that’s melodic, thematic, and even borderline proggy.
There’s a enjoyably Purplish quality to ‘Feeling Something’ with its intricate riffing over waves of organ, allied to a bluesy melody, over snappy drums from Russ Chaney, to which Salisbury then adds a rocking piano solo and Moore a zippy guitar break.  The closing ‘Questions’ is similarly rock that’s breezy rather than heavy – though it is the one track that drifts on a tad longer than it should.
But elsewhere they stretch themselves to good effect.  ‘Stranger’ deftly captures a sense of alienation, with its brooding opening of sparse chords over a machine-like drum rhythm, and Maxwell’s measured, ruminative vocal – the guy may not have the greatest range, but he uses what he’s got expressively. Then after a bluesy organ showcase they ramp up into a big
Bob Moore - going beyond the blues
passage in which Moore’s tasteful solo jostles with the organ over booming bass from Derek White, till it resolves into another memorable theme.  Similarly ‘Long Road’ builds from a mellow intro, with organ underpinning a reflective melody and lyrics from Maxwell, before Moore weighs in with Knopfler-esque solo, all fluttering notes and clear tones.  Indeed the track as a whole, with the guitar and keys dovetailing elegantly, hints at Telegraph Road-era Dire Straits, at once tasteful and daring.
‘Tell The Truth’ starts off slow, with twanging bass from White, but they soon leave that simplicity well and truly in their rear-view mirror, overtaken by tumbling guitar flitting in and out of Salisbury’s washes of organ, and an adventurous, suspense-laden mid-section of layered guitar lines.  On the following ‘Call It Midlife’ Maxwell’s wry vocal delivery and amusing lyrics bring to mind the late Tony Ashton, while Moore weighs in with bristling guitar chords and a tempo-shifting solo that ventures towards Steely Dan territory.  And ‘Can’t Sleep For Dreaming’ is intelligently constructed, with a subtle, Floyd-like swing, stalking, reverberating bass, and edgy slide remarks from Moore ahead of the bluesiest of his solos.
Different Horizons is not a hook-laden album to have you singing your head off.  It isn’t anything ground-breaking either.  What it is, is the sound of a gang of old lags channelling the classic rock music they love, and shaping it into something of their own – and you can feel their enjoyment.  As the winter nights draw on, you can stick on Different Horizons, lay back and close your eyes, and bathe in its warmth.

Different Horizons was released on 6 November on Lightnin' Fingers Records.

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