Sunday, April 24, 2022

Matt Pearce & The Mutiny - The Soul Food Store

Where to begin?  I know – Julia Roberts.  Remember that scene in Pretty Woman where Julia comments on the length of her legs, and tells Richard Gere that she’s providing “88 inches of therapy wrapped around you for the bargain price of three thousand dollars”?  Well, I don’t suppose Matt Pearce has Jools' pins, but The Soul Food Store provides 56 minutes of musical pleasure for the bargain price of eleven quid.
Gotta Get Home, the attention-grabbing 2019 debut album from Matt Pearce & The Mutiny, was a Stevie Wonder-tinged chunk of funky rock, and The Soul Food Store picks up where that left
Matt Pearce, floored by positive Blues Enthused review
Pic by Tina K
off, as opener ‘Got A Thing Going On’ bowls in with a funky, good-time groove, seamlessly melding together crunching guitar chords, thumping drums, bubbling bass and flaring horns.  It’s a hook-laden pleasure, topped off with a burst of wailing sax from Steve Beighton that gives way to a brief but scorching guitar break from Pearce.
So far so very good.  But while this was very much the sound of Gotta Get Home – and there’s more of it to come - Pearce and his crew pull some different rabbits from the hat this time around.  ‘All The Gods’ features another strong hook, but this time in the course of an epic-leaning slowie.  It's got a nagging guitar riff, fluttering keys, and some weighty guitar chords in the bridge, as a preface to a moody, thematic solo from Pearce.  ‘Promised Land’ has a toughened-up Latin vibe, with a neat and catchy staccato pre-chorus, and progresses through some skidding keys from Jon Moody into a fierily Santana-esque Pearce solo.  Then he gets a slide on his finger to deliver some swooning notes over simple piano chords on the intro to the Beatle-ish, guitar-weeping ‘Bring It All To Me’.  There’s a wistful chorus, soulful organ, and subtle, spot-on backing vox from Daliah Sherrington, and even as Pearce knocks out some Duane Allman-sweet slide breaks it remains all about the song.  Later on, too, there’s the delicious ballad ‘Beautiful Disguise’, which bridges the woozy late-night vibe of ‘Cry Me A River’ and the romance of ‘Sea Of Love’.  It’s an old-fashioned kinda thing, with strings courtesy of Richard Heacock, given a modern, glossy delivery, and with an exquisite, melodic guitar solo to boot.
Getting back to the booty-shaking fare though, ‘From Here To The Moon’ has a finger-popping, sax-smooching intro before bursting into vibrant life with a simple, chunky riff, another killer hook, and – underlining a clear Pearce forte - another course of serpentine slide playing as Kelpie McKenzie’s bass locks in the snapping drums of Joe Lazarus. It’s funky rock to be sure, but here and on the upbeat, driving ‘Never Get Away From Love’, with its tripping rhythm and spacy solo, there’s a distinctly British slant in evidence.  Hell, the punchy, strutting ‘Don’t Take It So Hard’ even down-shifts into an extended, razor-sharp guitar solo that melts into sax and vocal harmonising carrying echoes of ‘The Great Gig In The Sky’.  It’s a seven and a half minute noodle-free zone.
There’s a nu-soul side to the slinkiness of the chilled title track, mixing brittle-toned guitar and jazzy organ.  But the pace is hotter on ‘A Better Way’, with its handclaps and scuffling guitar riff, and if Matt Pearce demonstrates throughout that he knows the vocal vibe of stuff like this inside-out, with on-the-money phrasing, he’s still not shy about capitalising on Sherrington’s top-notch singing, which provides some smart counterpoint here.  And there’s more wiggling, wriggling funkiness on the album closer ‘King Of The World’, with its throbbing bass and popping snare.
Salutes and medals are due to all of Pearce’s Mutineers, an ensemble who are on it throughout, and sound like they’re having fun in the process, revved up and given clear direction by Pearce, who leads the whole enterprise with brio.  The Soul Food Store is music with a smile on its face, and it works an absolute treat.

The Soul Food Store is released on 29 April by Mutinear Records, and can be ordered here.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Black Pearl - Black Pearl

If two out of three ain’t bad, then three out of four must be pretty good, right?  Which I reckon is a pretty fair assessment of Black Pearl.  This new collaboration between singer and guitarist Marcus Malone, ex-Wishbone Ash guitarist Muddy Manninen, and songwriter/blues deejay/promoter Pete Feenstra scores on several fronts, namely Malone’s soulful vocals, Manninen’s arrangements and guitar, and Feenstra’s often intriguing lyrics.  What it could do
Marcus Malone rockin' the soul
with though, is stronger melodies on several songs.
When they get it right, as on the opening ‘Angel Town’ for example, and the recent single ‘Price
On Love’
, this is pretty tasty, sophisticated fare.  ‘Angel Town’ features weeping slide guitar from Manninen in the intro and beneath the chorus, while Malone does justice to an atmospheric tale of life in LA. It’s set to a steady tempo, and harmonised backing vocals build a semi-epic feel in readiness for Manninen’s sweeping solo.  Meanwhile ‘Price On Love’ is a dreamy reverie on love – as in you can’t put a price on it – that comes over like Hall & Oates, or maybe Toto having a stab at laid back funkiness.  Feenstra comes up with some decent lines, about being “one push short of a shove” and “dancing like a Roman candle”, and the chorus is sneakily earworm-like.
‘Cheap Perfume’ has a brighter tone, and sweeter slide fills, producing an AOR vibe that’s more tasteful than the lyrics about a less than elegant night on the town.  Malone is on the money vocally again – the soul dimension of the material is meat and drink to him – and Manninen comes up trumps with a twinkling, almost banjo-esque solo.  A cavalcade of intertwining guitar parts, variously rolling, stuttering and sparkling, create admirable depth on ‘Natural Light’ to go with robust drumming, matched by a satisfying melody that includes a decent hook.  And the rockier, funkier, quirkier ‘Luxury Girl’ conjures up a catchy arrangement,with a snappier rhythm section and some Morse Code guitar backing, even if the tune and lyrics are less ear-catching.
Smooth grooves and easy-going funkiness are the order of the day on a few other tracks where
Muddy Manninen contemplating guitar grooves
the melody could be stronger, like the drifting, loping ‘Delivery Man’, the dreamy ‘Handmade Pearl’ (adorned by more appealing slide commentary from Manninen), and the deeper groove of ‘She Knows Every Move’, with its cinematic lyric set to a slightly discordant melody enhanced by clinks and clanks of percussion and spells of eerie keys.
They get good with a couple of Latin-tinged outings.  The funky strut of ‘Mexican Romance’ leans towards the Eagles in rock mode, then benefits from a Latin touch to its chorus, before some jazzy twists and turns in the bridge lead the way into a swinging guitar solo.  And on the closing ‘With My Baby By My Side’ hints of Hispanic grow into the middle eight and then the twitching, funky solo, before a good, more purposefully Latin-rhythmed outro.  The slightly off-kilter melody is maybe meant to bring a surreal haze to the lyric about some born-to-run couple, and even if it doesn’t quite cut it, there’s still a convincing vibe – a true romance duo in their roof-down rag-top car, rolling down some Southern highway with the breeze in their hair.
Black Pearl feels like a bit of a throwback to the 70s and 80s at times, and if the past is another country then this album’s locale would be a California where Steely Dan are working on studio tans, and hot shot musos get together on sophisticated AOR grooves.  Sure, it could do with handful of livelier melodies and hooks, but there are always other ingredients in the mix to spice up this sunny, funky, literate platter.

Black Pearl is released by Redline Records, via Cadiz, on 22 April, and can be ordered here.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Gimme 5 - Troy Redfern does the Desert Island thing

Troy Redfern, who heads out on tour as special guest to When Rivers Meet from 21 April, is the latest guest for Blues Enthused's Gimme 5 feature, sharing 5 songs, old or new, that have been on his radar lately; 5 key influences on his music; and 5 people he'd like to hang out with for a long lunch.  And Troy dares to be different with an eclectic range of interesting selections.  So whaddya got for us, Troy?

Troy Redfern tunes up his Resonator in readiness to go on tour
Pic by Halek Gurer

Gimme 5 songs, old or new, that have been on your radar recently.  [Check out the links to hear all Troy's selections.]

'Taking Me Back' by Jack White:  "Jack White has always put out great records, but his lead single from his new album Fear of the Dawn really caught my ear. What I like about it is the combination of the old school garage vibe meets futuristic production." 

'Halfway Home' by Royston Langdon:  "Royston is one of my all-time favourite writers and vocalist, I absolutely loved his work with Spacehog. This single from his new Chains EP really hits the mark for me." 

'Scarlet Town' by Gillian Welch:  "The Harrow and the Harvest is such a beautiful album, the interplay between Gillian's vocals and Dave Rawlings guitar work is sublime. 'Scarlet Town' is as about as perfect as a song can be, stunning songcraft."

'Preaching Blues' by Son House:  "The newly released Forever On My Mind is astonishing in its primal beauty capturing Son in his later years. Son is the grandfather of the blues and was the guy that really made me want to play resonator guitar. 'Preaching Blues' is one of my favourite Son House tunes so it's great to hear this new version."

'Tension and Release' by Joe Satriani:  "Growing up Joe's albums Surfing With The Alien and The Extremist were on heavy rotation, I've always followed his releases. His new release The Elephants Of Mars is fantastic. Satriani continues to write amazing instrumentals with his unique voice on the guitar.

Gimme 5 artists or bands who have had a big influence on your work.

Son House:  "I discovered Son when I was about 14, it was a real turning point for me. Before then I'd been listening to later blues artists like Hendrix and Buddy Guy but getting back to the source was a revelation. His visceral, honest approach to the guitar really affected me, it really informed the mindset that I still have today every time I pick up the guitar."

Frank Zappa:  "Zappa's catalogue is whole musical universe unto itself.  From the early avant-
Cosmically colourful and complex Frank Zappa
garde, the blues influence, extended solos, beautifully complex compositions, and all executed with fierce originality. His music, from when I first heard it as a teenager has had a profound influence on me, and still does. It has everything that I love about music."

Queen:  "The very first band I got into when I was 6 was Queen. I would incessantly listen to A Night At The Opera and Sheer Heart Attack, loving the detail in the production. Brian May's guitar tones and harmonies are some of the best guitar parts ever recorded in my opinion." 

Mississippi Fred McDowell:  "Fred's slide guitar playing is as honest and raw as you can get.  I've always been a huge fan of hill country blues, it always felt more honest than the slick Chicago style. Fred's lead phrasing, touch and vibrato really speaks to me. There's a beauty in the rawness."

Bill Frisell:  "The sound scape, out of focus style of Bill Frisell is special. He's a master of weaving beautiful guitar melodies into a tapestry of unique textures and compositions. His approach really influenced me in the way you can build layers, especially using loops which I like to do live in my solo set."

Gimme 5 guests you’d love to invite to your ideal long lunch.

Graham Hancock:  "Graham's a British writer whose best-known work is Fingerprints of the Gods. It would be great to talk ancient civilisations with him, I've always loved the fascinating subject of early megolithic cultures and the strange anomalies that exist around the world, like
Bill Harkleroad shocked at lunch invite
that of Gobekli Tepe.

Jacques Vallée:  "Now that the once taboo subject of UFO's has had a paradigm shift with the recent Pentagon report delivered to Congress last year, it would be great to talk to one of the leading authorities on the subject. The case reports of military encounters since the 40s are mind-blowing."

Vinnie Colauita:  "Vinnie is one of my all-time favourite drummers. I'd love to talk polyrhythms and nested tuplets with him (nerd alert!), especially about his work during the years he spent working with Zappa." 

Gianni Russo:  "Now this guy has lived a life! His stories about his time with the mafia, his fling with Marilyn Monroe and singing lessons with Sinatra would be great to hear."

Bill Harkleroad:  "Bill played guitar for Captain Beefheart, I absolutely love his angular slide guitar playing. It would be ace to hear his stories of working under the iron fist of the good Captain and the process of constructing the parts for the Trout Mask Replica album.

Just one track – pick one of your tracks that you’d share with a new listener to introduce your music.

If I had to pick one track it would probably be 'Ghosts' from my 2021 album The Fire Cosmic.  It has all the elements that define my style.  

Check out the Blues Enthused review of The Fire Cosmic here.

Troy Redfern is special guest on When Rivers Meet's UK tour, which starts on 21 April.  Tickets are available from The Gig Cartel here.

If you want to read the Gimme 5 feature with When Rivers Meet's Aaron Bond, you can find it here.

If you want to listen to all of Troy Redfern's selected tracks at once, then check out the playlist on the Blues Enthused YouTube channel, here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Gimme 5 - Aaron Bond of When Rivers Meet picks'n'mixes

Gimme 5 is the Blues Enthused feature in which guests name five songs that have got their attention lately; five key influences on their work; and five people they’d like to hang out with for a long lunch.  Today's guest is Aaron Bond of UK Blues Award-winning duo When Rivers Meet, who kick off their headline UK tour on 21 April, with support from Troy Redfern.  Let's go, Aaron!

Windswept and interesting When Rivers Meet
Pic by Rob Blackham
Gimme 5 songs, old or new, that have been on your radar recently.  [Check out the links to hear all Aaron's selections.
'Sleeping On The Blacktop' by Colter Wall:  "Love his stripped back contemporary style of an old bygone era of music. It is just great just absolutely love it."
'Waiting For Your Man' by Robert Jon & The Wreck:  "Robert John & The Wreck are a great band, and they create such a great sound, and they are contemporary and just love it, just awesome!"  Check out the Blues Enthused review of Robert Jon & The Wreck's latest album Shine A Light On Me Brother here.
'Ghosts' by Troy Redfern:  "Troy is a great guitarist and Troy is joining us on our April/May tour around the UK and we can’t wait to hear him and see his stuff. It will be awesome!"  'Ghosts' comes from Troy Redfern's latest album The Fire Cosmic, reviewed here.
'Royal Tea' by Joe Bonamassa:  "Joe Bonamassa is the godfather of modern blues and a real trailblazer, and someone to be respected and listened to. We learn a lot from Joe Bonamassa." 
'Bulletproof' by Samantha Fish:  "Samantha Fish is the queen of the cigar box guitar, absolutely love what she does. We went to see her a couple of years ago before lockdown in Norwich and we were absolutely blown away by her. Absolutely fantastic, highly recommend!"  'Bulletproof' comes from Samantha Fish's 2019 album Kill Or Be Kind, reviewed here.
Gimme 5 artists or bands who have had a big influence on your work.
John Lee Hooker:  "He got me into the blues music from an early age, love his style, love his voice, and love everything about John Lee Hooker. Just so thankful that I heard his track'Boom Boom Boom' because it literally got me into the blues."
John Lee Hooker - cool blue stole my heart

Led Zeppelin:  "They were the most iconic band of all time, ranging from plenty of unique styles. They are the go-to band for classic rock and blues." 
Bad Company:  "The reason Bad Company is so significant is because of Paul Rodgers. His voice is absolutely amazing he is arguably the best rock and blues singer of all time." 
Guns N’ Roses:  "In my opinion Guns N’ Roses are the best rock band of all time. They had every influence running through every part of their music." 
Cream:  "They are the kings of classic rock and blues, and we just love everything bout them, especially Eric Clapton’s blues licks. His guitar playing is spectacular."
Gimme 5 guests you’d love to hang out with for a long lunch.
Axel Rose:  "He is the driving force behind Guns N’ Roses. I bet he has got a million stories to tell about his life. He’s led an interesting life and continues to do so. I would love to hear some of his stories."
William Shatner:  "His stories would be absolutely amazing, from his stage days because he was a thespian in Canada. Then going on to the pioneering programme Star Trek which I am sure
William Shatner - "Mr Sulu, turn the amps up to 11!"
lots of people will know about - and the man that has gone into space at 90 years old. Oh my god, would love to hear some of William Shatner’s stories."
Sylvester Stallone:  "There is something about Sylvester Stallone you’ve got to love and respect. He is very truthful about where he comes from and what he’s done and what he’s accomplished. Yeah, he would be an amazing person to listen to." 
David Attenborough:  "I mean if you are going to have a table full of people that are going to tell stories, David Attenborough if you love history and wildlife and things like that and anything to do with the planet it’s got to be him. He would be amazing to listen to." 

Lee Evans:  "I don’t think you can have a table full of absolute all-stars without having probably the top comedian of all time Mr Lee Evans. He’d be absolutely hilarious and yeah, I think he would have everybody laughing for sure." 
And finally, just one track – pick one of your tracks that you’d share with a new listener to introduce your music.
'He’ll Drive You Crazy' is our latest single from our second album Saving Grace, of which we are really proud. It’s gritty, it’s rocky, I am playing cigar box and Grace is playing the violin and it embodies our rocky blues side. So yes, that would be the one I would suggest to anybody – 'He’ll Drive You Crazy'."  Check out the Blues Enthused review of Saving Grace here.

When Rivers Meet's UK tour with special guest Troy Redfern starts on 21 April.  Tickets are available from The Gig Cartel, here.

If you want to listen to all of Aaron's selected tracks at once, then check out the playlist on the Blues Enthused YouTube channel, here.

You can also read the Gimme 5 Q&A with WRM's tour guest Troy Redfern, here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Edgar Winter - Brother Johnny

Brother Johnny is a whopper of a tribute album to his sibling from Edgar Winter.  You get 17 tracks for your spondoolicks, running to 76 minutes – a double album, in old money - and with a stellar cast of guests into the bargain.  But while much of the material is well known for having been recorded by Johnny Winter, and most of those big-name guests are guitar hotshots like Johnny, it’s worth underlining that it’s very much Edgar Winter who is the glue holding Brother Johnny together.
Edgar’s snarling vocal grabs the attention on the opening ‘Mean Town Blues’ just as much as the turbo-charged riffing, or the wicked slide solo that Joe Bonamassa whacks out over a Diddley-esque rhythmic passage.  It’s a meaty, high-energy blast of blues-rock, first recorded by Johnny in 1968, with a vibe that makes me wonder how much he may have influenced fellow Texans ZZ Top.
Edgar Winter - blowing life into the tribute to his brother Johnny
Speaking of whom, Billy Gibbons turns up to provide vocals and a solo on ‘I’m Yours And I’m Hers’, while Derek Trucks is also on hand to add a gutsy slide excursion over the driving rhythm section.  As for the aforementioned Bonamassa, he sounds completely at home on ‘Self Destructive Blues’, letting rip again both vocally and on guitar as it’s powered along by some hyperactive bass and drums from Sean Hurley and Greg Bisonette.
This is core Johnny Winter territory, and there are some other crunking examples on ‘Rock’n’Roll Hoochie Koo’, ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’, and ‘Highway 61 Revisited’.  It’s maybe a shame that Rick Derringer, who wrote it, doesn’t report for guitar duty on the first of these.  But it’s still a raunchy old thing with its distinctive descending riff, Steve Lukather giving it some welly on the solo, and Bon Jovi guitarist Phil X adding some extra zing via high-flying backing vocals.  Edgar’s roared “Yeah!” at the start of ‘ . . . Jack Flash’ is a statement of intent, heralding pounding, all-action drums, ringing rhythm guitar from Waddy Wachtel, and some helter-skelter soloing from Phil X.  All in all, it lives up to the riotous energy of that famous rendition by Johnny Winter on the Old Grey Whistle Test.  And ‘Highway 61 Revisited’ is rattling, Bob Dylan rock’n’roll, right down to the slide whistle whoops, with thumping piano and a suitably edgy vocal from Edgar, plus wailing lead guitar from Kenny Wayne Shepherd.
There’s more of this kind of thing, not least with the barely contained raw energy of ‘Guess I’ll Go Away’, which features the late lamented Taylor Hawkins supplying lead and backing vocals, and Dave Rappaport cranking out the rising-and-tumbling guitar riff and a careening solo.  But the album is leavened by some different stuff.  There’s the acoustic ‘Lone Star Blues’, an up-to-date Edgar composition on which he duets with Keb’ Mo’ for some loose and easy storytelling.  There’s ‘Stranger’, which brings together the freaky combination of Ringo Starr on drums and Joe Walsh on lead guitar, and Michael McDonald delivering a soulful vocal that’s both weary and silky. And there’s the Ray Charles ballad ‘Drown In My Own Tears’, with Edgar showing a softer vocal side against the backdrop of horns.
Does the world really need another take on ‘Johnny B. Goode’, even if it was a Johnny Winter staple?  No harm I suppose, and at least Edgar puts his own stamp on it with his rockin’ piano and muscular sax, plus a swathe of beer-drinkin’, barroom vocals.  At the other end of the spectrum is the closing ‘End Of The Line’, an elegiac Edgar Winter original backed by piano and strings.  Its sentiments may make it an understandable choice as a final salute, but its Great American Songbook stylings don’t make for the best fit.
There are tribute albums aplenty these days.  How many of them have any longevity with their audience, and how many end up as merely ephemeral celebrations of their subject?  Answers on a postcard, please.  But one thing that Brother Johnny has going for it, I reckon, is the personal commitment that Edgar Winter has invested, as curator, performer and producer.  This ain’t your ordinary, everyday tribute album - it’s a brother-to-brother thing.

Brother Johnny is released on 15 April by Quarto Valley Records, and is available digitally here.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Dom Martin - A Savage Life

Not many albums cross my path these days that leave me seriously wanting more.  Even really good ones can stray into filler, or repetition.  Still fewer releases are so out-of-the-box fresh and distinctive that they actually take me by surprise.  Dom Martin’s A Savage Life lands squarely in both these categories.  Coming in at just 34 minutes, the only real problem with this album is that there should be more of it.  More significantly, what Dom Martin has served up ain’t no run-of-the-mill blues-rock fodder.  No siree, this stuff has the word “special” stamped on it in Martin’s patented shade of blues ink.
That Martin is at ease with a geetar in his mitts is evident right from the git-go, with ‘Unsatisfied’,
Dom Martin - out there, on his own
Pic by Tony Cole
on which he peels off some barbed-wire coils of guitar notes in relaxed, measured fashion, over halting bass from Dave Thompson, then slips into a flickering solo.  The result is something of a spaced-out, Trower-esque tone and vibe, but combined with a growled vocal worthy of the title, until he sings “You make it look so easy, you just stop” - and does just that.  Boom - he hits the brakes after less than three minutes, just as broader pastures await.  What’re you playing at Dom?  I was enjoying that!
But ‘Unsatisfied’ is really just Martin getting warmed up with something at least adjacent to the mainstream.  Where he really scores is when he gets off the beaten track, most notably with some acoustic guitar excursions.  Get your ears round ‘Echoes’ for example, where he reels off some deliciously iridescent folky acoustic playing, rippling along beautifully till he conjures up a teasing, suspenseful closing passage.  Even more pleasingly, this is the accompaniment for a largely hushed vocal that – and this is not a one-off – evokes the dreamy spirit of John Martyn.  There’s more of this sensibility invested in ‘Addict’ too, with a revolving acoustic guitar refrain and another husky vocal, and if the melody isn’t a complete standout then Martin’s delivery of the lyric, about a drug-addled girl, still shows more feeling in a couple of lines than you’d get from a million streams of Ed Sheeran’s ‘A-Team’.
But it’s not just when he sits down with an acoustic that Martin can do more with less.  ‘Here Comes The River’ seems to involve nothing but two electric guitars, one strumming and plucking gentle chords, the other rolling out bluesy licks to create the ideal, hypnotic backing for his smoky singing.  Meanwhile the simple blues chord sequences of ‘Blues On The Bay’ are elevated by his delicate lead playing, his ability to pull out charmingly unexpected chords and flurries of notes, and Jimmy Dewar-like dreamy vocals.  But oh man – again he opts to hit the ‘Stop’ button when there seems to be so much more to say!
‘The Man From Nowhere’ is a twirling guitar rag with an unnecessary needle-crackling background effect, and if I say it isn’t really my cup of cognac that’s no criticism of the confident execution.  But ‘Drink In Blues Colours’ is more seductive and then some, with its drowsy, ‘Rain Song’-like chords to open, a fine blues solo after the verse-chorus, and another magnetic vocal.  The simplicity is breath-taking, and enhanced by a second solo, that’s fluid then prickly, over Thompson’s sympathetically rolling bass and easy-as-it-goes drums from Laurence McKeown.
There are a couple of more upbeat outings in ’12 Gauge’ and ‘Maxwell Shuffle’.  The former bristles with a properly gutsy, slide-slipping blues-rock riff and ducking and diving bass, to go with a rasping vocal, and there’s a splintering solo that ends all to soon when a proper wig-out was beckoning.  Then ‘Maxwell Shuffle’ is a rhythm-meets-lead blues instrumental with an air of SRV about it, squeezing several segments into its short lifespan before charging to a conclusion.
It's back to more subdued territory for the closing track though.  ‘The Parting Glass’ is an arrangement of an elegiac Celtic folk song, heralded by a ghostly guitar intro.  Martin’s Northern Irish voice does full justice to the spirit of the song, delivering it with real feeling and subtlety.
I’ll say it again.  This is an album that’s sui generis – which is a fancy way of saying “one of a kind”.  Sure, I wish Dom Martin had let loose a bit more here and there, because sometimes you can have too little of a good thing.  And let’s be clear, A Savage Life is a really, really good thing.
A Savage Life
 is released on 8 April, and can be ordered here.

Monday, April 4, 2022

Son Of Dave - Call Me King

When beatboxing harp player Son Of Dave warns that he’s going to ‘Kick Your Butt’ on the opening track of his new album, he ain’t fooling around.  It’s shuffling and snuffly, with hints of ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’ along the way, but in its primitively, unconventionally hypnotic sorta way, it’s fit to make you a slave to the rhythm – but, of course, a very different rhythm from Grace Jones.
Son Of Dave prepares to eat harmonica
That sensation of having yer tush sparked into motion is one of the big takeaways from Call Me King.  ‘Waste Time With Me’ kicks off with a low-down rumbling rhythm, while SOD’s harp alternately grumbles and squeaks, and clanking percussion adds to the jaunty, hip-shuffling vibe.  It is, quite simply, good fun.  There's more going on instrumentally on ‘Call Me King’, to back its cool, sprechgesang vocal, but ultimately it boils down to generating a crafty kind of swagger that Ian Siegal would be proud of.
‘I’m Going Monkey For Your Love’ combines a chugging rhythm, rat-a-tat vocalising and injections of piano to become irresistibly hip-swivelling.  It’s funky as all hell, worthy of Mia Wallace paying a return visit to Jackrabbit Slim’s and yanking Vince Vega onstage for another twist competition.  And if that sounds retro, then in its own warped way ‘Knock Off’ resurrects the spirit of Louis Jordan, even Louis Prima maybe, with a vibe taking in nagging and swinging harp, more rinky-dink piano, jungle drum fills and even snatches of scat.  If you wanna be a cat who knows where it’s at, then this is the juke joint daddy-o.
There’s more focus on the lyrics with ‘F That Daily Mail’ – a title to warm the cockles of my heart, the “F” cheekily delivered with a toot of harmonica.  It’s not so much a rant as a sardonic sideswipe about the “old man selling lies to the suckers”, set to an easy groove that gradually gets more emphatic, a subterranean bass line contrasting with tinkles of piano and falsetto harmonies to provide witty extra colour.
There are work song roots to the slower ‘Remaining Days’, but the closing ‘Jump Hoops’ underlines the blues roots of SOD’s sound more clearly, being a stop-time grooving throwback to John Lee Hooker’s – but delivered in Son Of Dave’s stripped back, harp-led, off-kilter fashion.
Of course, you may listen to the ten tracks and 27 minutes or so of Call Me King and, such is Son Of Dave’s idiosyncratic style, and you may conclude that none of the above accurately represents what you hear.  Which is fine.  But I bet your feet will still be tapping.
Call Me King is released by Goddamn Records on 8 April 2022, and can be ordered here.