The Black Lillies
Hard to Please
Attack Monkey/Thirty Tigers
A Barnstormin’ Collection of Excellent Rocking Americana.
The Black Lillies’ 2011 album 100 Miles of Wreckage was one of; if not the first albums I gave 5 stars to when I reviewed for Maverick Magazine; and it has been a regular feature of car trips ever since.
Fast Forward to the end of October 2016 and a conversation with Graham Anderson from the Jumping Hot Club and out of nowhere the album came up in conversation as a favourite of both of us; then we got to thinking ‘where are they now?’
In early January he rang me to say “You will never guess who I’ve just booked to play the club! The Black Lillies!”
“The CD just arrived this morning!” I screamed in response.
So; was our mutual excitement merited?
The title track Hard To Please kick starts proceeding like Classic Harley…..fumes, sparks and a growlingly bouncy ride are the best way to describe this slice of down-home Southern Rock & Roll.
Guitars and keyboards get cranked up to 9 for That’s The Way It Goes which follows and I was soon making mental notes of upcoming car journeys through the countryside that will require this album as a soundtrack.
The Black Lillies revolve around the distinctive voices of Cruz Contreras and Haley Cole who get to sing separately but more importantly on some of the finest Alt. Country/Americana duets you will ever hear.
Dancin’ is the type of boy/girl Country song I’ve dreamed of hearing for years and mainstream Nashville has consistently stopped releasing, or when they do make it so saccharine sweet my teeth itch.
Haley Cole blows the cobwebs away on The First Time as female backing singers and some mighty sweet pedal and electric guitar fill the air in the background.
Cruz has a very distinctive voice which he treats as an extra instrument on the darkly atmospheric Broken Shore, with Cole providing her voice as a kind of vocal shadow on the chorus; yet Desire sees him entering the gentle singer-songwriter world of Guy Clark, Steve Earle and Rodney Crowell.
The Black Lillies glide seamlessly through every page of the Americana manual with ease; and for me two songs are extraordinarily good…..Fade is darkly beautiful with Contreras at the piano pleading with his lover, as Haley provides comely harmonies as the band tick along nicely behind them.
Which leaves my favourite song; from the first time I heard the album….40 Days. A rip-snorting boogie of a Country Rocker that harks back to the days of Creedence and The Band.
It appears this is being released to coincide with a UK/European Tour and I for one can’t wait to hear these songs in all their glory in front of a packed concert hall.
Released USA October 2015
Released UK February 10th 2017