Saturday, July 10, 2021

Ivy Gold - Six Dusty Winds

Atlantic Crossing may have been the title of an album by Rod the Mod, but it’s also a good description for this blues rock/classic rock pot pourri from Ivy Gold, given that Six Dusty Winds is a transatlantic collaboration between Avalon guitarist Sebastian Eder and singer Manou from Germany, drummer and bassist Tal Bergman and Kevin Moore from the States, and Swedish keys man Anders Olinder.
But wherever they come from, the initial impression when they press play on ‘Face Of Deceit’ is encouraging.  There’s a latterday Purpleness to proceedings as Bergman and Moore kick in with a big fat rhythm section sound, over which Eder essays some – let’s get technical here – twiddly
Ivy Gold get photographically tricksy
guitar on the intro.  Fair play to ‘em, here and throughout Ivy Gold whack out a great sound, with the benefit of Eder’s experienced production skills.  Olinder adds some appealing, burbling organ fills, female singer Manou delivers a satisfying vocal, and Eder takes the biscuit with a stinging, slow-slow-quick-quick-slow solo.
Some of these positives remain a constant across the piece – strong musicianship and arrangements, great sound, and some ear-catching soloing from Olinder, and especially Eder.  And in the latter part of the album the more blues-tinged tracks like ‘Shine On’, ‘We Are One’ and ‘Without You’ show them at their best.  On ‘Shine On’ Manou produces a smoother than usual vocal, while on ‘Without You’ she gets dramatic and angsty but still on point.  Eder offers a clever, teasing guitar solo on the first of these, while on ‘We Are One’ funky rhythm guitar and bass underpin an appealing organ solo.
Mind you, they also have some traits that are more creeping ivy than burnished gold.  There’s a tendency towards melodies that, while pleasant enough, are less than startling.  And on ‘We Are One’ Manou leans towards a declamatory vocal style, which she deploys across much of the first half of the album, and which doesn’t do much for me.  Which is a pity, because on the other hand the lady deserves credit for the lush harmonies and backing vocals that bring a sheen to songs like ‘This Is My Time’, with its choppy rhythm guitar and swells of organ, and a cool bridge leading into a soaring solo from Eder.  Sadly it’s also one of several songs to feature a hackneyed lyric, in this case asserting that “This is my time to change my life, it’s not a crime to break free” – though in mitigation, I imagine English is Manou’s second language, and I’d like to see yer average Brit muso deliver quality wordsmithery in German.
Still and all, there are other impressive moments to be found.  There’s the solemn and spangly, mirrorball-ready intro to ‘Retribution’, on which Olinder serves up a tastily reflective organ solo, that in turn segues into a stiletto-sharp guitar solo over a switched up chord sequence.  Slapping bass from Moore kicks off a twitchy funk intro on ‘Believe’, with stuttering drums from Bergman, developing into a savvy arrangement in which Olinder’s organ solo is the icing on the cake of a prog-funk-rock vibe, while Eder’s guitar break plays around with tension and release to good effect.  And in spite of another clunky lyric, they just about nail the demi-epic aspirations of the well-assembled closer ‘Born Again’, a chunky mid-paced rocker on which pulsing keys form the backdrop to another polished guitar showcase from Eder, ahead of a neatly coasting outro.
On Six Dusty Winds the whole ain’t really more than the sum of Ivy Gold’s parts, but some of those parts are still stylish.  The challenge for Ivy Gold next time around is to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative, because it sounds to me like they have the tools to do the job.
Six Dusty Winds is out now on Golden Ivy Records.

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