I rather liked The False Poets self-titled debut album a couple of years ago; because of its Garage Band/60’s R&B grooves ….. which is why I was taken aback by their new ‘direction’. Had it not been for the fact that the band all live within walking distance of my house (on a sunny day …. and I would have to catch the bus back) but I’ve struggled to get my head around what they are trying to create here ….. that is until one evening I was driving home from work feeling a bit glum; and thought I’d give it another try. Of course! Singer and writer of all 13 songs, Chris Riley has made a massive leap from that ‘straight up’ 1960’s Beat Boom R&B sound and blended it with some Post Punk sensibilities; most notably with his ‘thin and reedy’ voice sounding now; uncannily like Pete Shelley from the Buzzcocks on several dangerously exciting tracks; starting with the opener Read The Sky! With that in mind; all of the pieces fell neatly into place and the car stereo was soon cranked up to 9 and the miles quite literally ‘flew by’. Much like the Buzzcocks (and the Yardbirds latter studio albums) The False Poets tread a musical tightrope at times; but that just adds extra frison to Drama Queen, How Many Days and; of course the bittersweet A Winter Rose. As you’d expect from a New Wave/ Garage Band, the influences are many and varied; with surprises every now and again; none more so than Bo Diddley is a Poet; which he undoubtedly was; but I thought I was the only one to think so. Then there is the exquisite instrumental album closer, Dead Man’s Shoes with its Hank B Marvin meets Film Noir guitar work, both set to ‘stun’ mode and stun you this track will. Back ‘in the day’ The False Poets would have been looking for a single to send to John Peel; but sadly he’s not around, but if he was Tillie’s Blues in a Double A-Side with the skewed swagger of Glissando wouldn’t be out of place in my opinion. Sadly I can’t think of anyone on radio with such eclectic taste today. It’s been a fun ride in the car with these songs as a soundtrack to several very different jaunts; and a couple of tracks have captured my attention; starting with the darkly ragged Stupid Thing which simmers like a kettle until Riley enters the fray with yet another Buzzcockian left of centre motherload; and the wacky guitar interludes just have to be heard to be believed! The album closer, Dead Man’s Shoes; neatly entering at #13 is a brooding 90% instrumental Noir New Wave heart melter; that deserves pride of place in a Tarantino or David Lynch cop drama set in a mid-Western town; where nobody knows your name. But; there is one other song; and the one that has become my Favourite over the last week or so …… Drama Queen; three crackling minutes of taught and phlegmatic Merseybeat wrapped in spiky Garageband guitar, throbbing bass and machine-gun drumming …… come on; what’s not to like? The False Poets all have day jobs and are active members of a variety of bands; like so many ‘professional musicians’ on here; so, to all intents and purposes this is an album that the False Poets have made for their own pleasure …… and I doff my cap to them for having such chutzpah!
A Mixed Bag of Standards, Covers and Classics Recorded Live Between 1968 and ’90 at the Montreux Jazz Festival
A 29 song maxi-release, “Nine Simone – The Montreux Years” contains songs from between 1968 and 1990, recorded at the Montreux Jazz Festival. It’s generally a laid back collection – the well known songs are on here of course – ‘Four Women’, ‘See-Line Woman’, ‘Little Girl Blue’, ‘My Baby Just Cares for Me’, and ‘Don’t Smoke in Bed’ are all represented, although the later performances lack the vocal dexterity that Ms Simone is best known for. At times this is reflected in the choice of material too – plus; there’s quite a lot of piano at the expense of vocals. Generally, the earlier tracks from 1968 tend to fare better in terms of performance – there’s a vocal playfulness in songs like “Just in time” and “When I was a young girl;” that’s missing from the tired delivery (and if I’m honest, slightly flat and off-key) reading of the 1990 “My baby just cares for me”. This difference between the earlier and later performances is most notably marked by the two versions of “Backlash Blues” – the 1968 version has an excited nervous tremulous edge to Ms Simone’s voice and a harder edge and energy to the arrangement, but by 1976 there’s a noticeable drop-off in the intensity of performance. Of the covers, “No woman no cry” from 1990 is at times a bit cringeworthy in the flatness of its delivery and does no favours to the singer’s legacy. Contrast this with the energy in 1968’s “The House of the Rising Sun” and it hardly seems the same person, as she plays with melody and rhythm to deconstruct and reinvent this Classic. From the songs from 1976, “Stars” works quite well as a fragile reflection on the past paired with a broken, once glorious but now hesitant vocal. Sadly; I found myself pressing the “skip” button quite a lot whenever I’ve been listening to the album – as a historical document it does a good job of charting Nina Simone’s performances at the Montreux Jazz Festival, but that’s artistically not always a good thing. A more cogent collection, focusing on the 1968 performance with a few of the 1976 show would have made a much tighter, and more rewarding collection. The 1990 songs unfortunately reveal a waning vocal talent and don’t make for comfortable listening at all. If you’re a completist, then get this by all means, but if you’re looking for an introduction to Nina Simone, there are far better places to start.
A Who’s Who of Americana Greats Pay Tribute To a Founding Father
I probably need to apologise as I hardly know anything about NRBQ, and absolutely nothing about founding member Joey Spampinato; but like many buying this disc was drawn to it by the high calibre of artists paying tribute to him, by singing one of his songs here. You’re more than welcome to read and learn about Joey and his influence on the fledgling Americana scene from the links at the end; until then …… let’s talk about the music. First out of the traps is a new name to me; Al Anderson and woosh …… does he get the party started with a good old fashioned Friday Night Rocker, You Can’t Hide ……. sizzling guitars, throbbing bass and rinky dink piano … what’s not to like? By sheer coincidence I was talking with friends a week or so ago about Los Lobos; and here they are at track #2 putting their distinctive hallmark on Every Boy/Every Girl which will make your heart swing and your toes tap with abandon. There are a couple of acts here that have never previously ‘tickled my fancy’; but Deer Tick and Peter Case really do come up trumps with their renditions of Spampinito’s That I Get Home and Don’t Knock on My Door respectively. It must say something about the songwriter’s exceptional skills that his songs have been recorded by such a diverse bunch of creatives in their own rite. Steve Forbert? His take on the cracked and beautiful Beverley is quite simply as good as anything on his own last couple of releases. Robbie Fulks? On any other album Chores would quite easily by a Favourite Track; but here it hardly makes the Top 5! That’s simply because any album that includes both Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale going all Everly Brothers on the timeless How Will I Know and Bonnie Raitt rocking the house alongside NRBQ themselves with Green Lights is always going to be a garden of earthly delights that will tempt and tease the listener into brand new directions every three or four minutes. The musical time bombs are dropped left right and centre, with surprises around every corner. Another act I’ve chatted about recently is ex-Womble Chris Spedding; and he turns up here alongside The Nils; raising not just the tempo but the temperature with the garage rocker That’s Alright ….. and it’s more than alright. Just prior to that is a real head turner ……. Penn and Teller; yes THAT Penn and Teller giving a Jazzlite rendition of the quirky Plenty of Something ……. and the Minus 5 do what they do with gusto and aplomb on Don’t She Look Good; neither are my Favourite Songs here by a Country Mile; but testimony to Spampinato’s vast and varied songwriting skills. For my actual Favourite Song here I’ve been sorely tempted to go for the Supergroup featuring Ben Harper, Charlie Musselwhite, Benmont Trench, Don Was and one Keef Richards ….. performing Like a Locomotive; because that band could easily have dissolved into an unholy mess; but Ben Harper and Sheldon Gomberg’s production is so tight, not a single note is out of place. But; being the sentimental fool that I am I’m giving the coveted accolade to the delightful and swoonsome finale, First Crush as it’s performed by Kami Lyle and Joey Spampinato himself and just makes the world feel a little bit warmer and better because of its existence. I have reviewed NRBQ before; but because they never really made a mark on this side of the pond they’ve never really been on my radar; but WOW what a consummate songwriter Joey Spampinato is …… covering more bases than most and doing a rather fine job with each song never ever sounding in the slightest ‘forced’; or out of place.
Although a world renowned singer-songwriter in his own rite; no review of Cedric Burnside is complete without having to mention that his late Grandfather was the legendary R.L. Burnside; the original keeper of the Bentonia Blues flame. Cedric in turn; puts his very own spin on this iconic style of music and here takes it head first inti the 21st Century! Anyone who has heard his records before; or hopefully seen him play ‘live’ will know that the younger Burnside certainly ain’t no ‘one trick pony’ and while predominantly championed for his wild and intense playing; this album begins with the laconic solo acoustic song The World Can Be So Cold; and has all the hallmarks of being a crossover ‘hit’, with his exceptional finger picked guitar setting the hairs on the average listener’s neck standing on end! Cedric ‘goes electric’ on the next song; Step In; and that Bentonic claustrophobic intensity is here in every single heart pounding note. The same is true of most everything that follows; with Cedric’s talent for storytelling coming to the fore on the delicate Keep On Pushing and Pretty Flowers; both of which bring back memories of Ritchie P Havens many years ago; with Burnside blending Jazz licks with those powerful Blues chords. Speaking of his songwriting; I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by the way the actual songs are to the forefront here; where normally they would just be part of the package. One of these highlights is undoubtedly What Makes Me Think, with it’s hypnotic chorus and heavy, heavy bass lines making for a song I can’t wait to hear played ‘live’. Another cracker is the title track I Be Trying; which features the singer’s daughter Portrika on backing vocals as he takes on the role of a man begging for forgiveness: “still learning and trying to be the best me.” This track is actually followed by two straight up ‘love songs’; You Really Love Me and Love Is The Key; but these are ‘love songs’ in the Bentonia mould and take you to places far removed from the clubs of Chicago and London Town. This is Cedric’s 9th album and he has developed beyond all comprehension since releasing THE RECORD 15 years ago; with the elegantly graceful Bird Without a Feather making him sound like a wise old sage as he speaks to his lost love; whom he has actually shot dead ‘because she done him wrong’ and on Get Down he even dabbles in Hendrixesque psychedelia without ever losing the subtleties that we expect and receive by the bucketful. It’s been far from easy over the last few days trying to select a Favourite Track; the finale Love You Forever is a slow burning Blues song that just aches with longing; and earlier Gotta Look Out takes you on a trip back to the 60’s but with plenty of Cedric’s wondrous twists in every line and chord. Which leaves me with Hands Off That Girl …… WOW …. WOW and thrice WOW! The Blues comes in many hues; but rarely darker and more sensitive than this song. There’s so much I could say about it; but won’t …… you really need to hear it with a clear mind to get it and ‘feel it.’ Cedric Burnside has paid his dues over the years; spending an apprenticeship hauling the act around juke joints, bars and clubs across the world and only in the last couple of years has that started to pay off with Awards and Honors coming at him from all directions, so don’t be too surprised if this album not just features in some end of year High Falutin Top 10’s; but on the Big Boys Award Circuses too.
Still Fearless and Providing Family Entertainment From Somewhere Downtown, Americana.
The adage ‘legendary’ is well over used when it comes to reviewing anything by an act over 40 years old these days; but how else to describe Roger Chapman; one of the British forefathers of Rock and indeed; Prog in his days with The Family? While not as prolific these days; he’s never stopped touring and recording in the near half century since that band split; and in my humble opinion has never stopped being at the very least ‘interesting’. WOW! Opening track Dark Side of The Stairs is a rather sensuous and sleazy late night New Orleansy type stomp (or should that be Romp?). There sure ain’t nothing wrong with ‘that voice’ that’s for sure; and Roger sounds as salacious as ever if a little bit ragged around the edges ….. but then again; didn’t he always? Like anyone and everyone with a scrap of common sense these days, our man is using his well used and very distinctive voice to his best advantage; slowing things down and dipping his toe into the Americana pond throughout; with that ‘knowing’ snarl and growl at it’s glorious best on Nightmare #5 and After The Rain which both may or may not be a man’s thoughts on the aging process ….. or just crinkly love songs …. who knows? Because the title is slightly different from the versions I recognise, Snake took me not just by surprise but a few minutes for the penny to drop. Al Wilson’s Northern Soul floor filler, The Snake gets slowed down to now become a dirty ole Blues song, that sounds like it was recorded on a Friday night in a run down Honky Tonk on the bad side of town. Obviously Roger can’t still do what he did in the 70’s; but he can still ‘Rock the House’ better than most folk his age; give Collar Turned Up and The Playtime is Over to hear what I’m talking about ……. and Sir Rodney Stewart should take note; you really can still be an authentic Rocker at this age, if you know what you’re doing ….. and Roger Chapman does! There ain’t no filler here by the way; every song is well worth it’s place; but there are a couple that show Roger Chapman still has a twinkle in his eye and an eye for a great song; with Rabbit Got a Gun being a primo example and that harmonica blast ain’t too shabby wither. I’m simply adoring the slow and romantic On Lavender Heights which I wasn’t expecting at all; but then again I too am still a silly old romantic at my age. Having Us a Honeymoon, courtesy of the rinky-dinky piano and Cajun fiddler is another bit of a New Orleansy Romp; with more than a nod to the good Doctor but so many others in that vein too ……. perfect for a Saturday night BBQ. Which brings me to the album closer and my Favourite Song on a rather exceptional album; Naughty Child. WOW! Dark and slow burning; it sounds very much like Chappo has deliberately kept the best ’til last; with the one song here that sort of reminds me of The Streetwalkers circa Downtown Flyers, with not a note or word wasted on a claustrophobic look back on his and perhaps our own younger days. It’s been a blast listening to this album over the last few weeks; rediscovering a talent that, while I hadn’t forgot about …. but perhaps the industry just might have ….. and hopefully this album will put right that wrong, across the Post-Pandemic Summer of ’21.
Elli De Mon Countin’ The Blues (Queens of the 1920’s) Area Pirata
Diggin’ The Dirty on Century Old Blues.
Elli De Mon will be a new name to 99% of the people reading this review; because she’s from Italy and even though she has trawled the Blues Clubs and Festival Circuit of mainland Europe for the last ten years or more; but ‘boy oh boy’ does she have a dose of the Blues! Many of you will already know my principled theory on the cover artwork on albums by artistes I don’t know ……. would I pick it up in a Record Shop? In this case, it’s a resounding YES! Then; does the cover represent the music therein? Hmmmmm …… mostly yes; but I doubt even 1% of casual purchasers would be disappointed …. although Blues Purists are in for a very bumpy ride. During a pregnancy a couple of years ago De Mon wrote a book COUNTIN’ THE BLUES : INDOMITABLE WOMEN and has now recorded a bunch of songs by these women; the Godmothers of the Blues as we know it today. As soon as you hear that sparkling Resonator opening to Ma Rainey’s Prove It On Me Blues you will know if you are in or out; if you’re in …. you are in for a veritable treat. Although I have the album from the recent Ma Rainey album; it sure don’t sound nuthin’ like this! To some degree Elli gives this century old song a Bentonia makeover; and now it’s one helluva foot-stomper. While most of the names that originally recorded these songs are known to me; the songs invariably aren’t and it has to be said; Elli De Mon’s 21st Century reinventions make comparison superfluous anyways. You get where we’re going as early as the second song; Blue Spirit Blues, first sung by Bessie Smith but now a dark and almost Gothic tale that will set your hair standing on end. As the tempo and intensity picks up what follows will often send dogs scuttling for cover, as Elli turns Dope Head Blues into a Stones style Psychedelic sucker punch to the gut; Alberta Hunter’s Downhearted Blues and the infamous Shave Em’ Dry are now Punk infused Chicago Blues that conjure up memories of the first time I ever saw the Damned AND The Legendary Shack Shakers …… Yikes! Mercifully things slow down a bit on the B-Side of the album (second half of the CD) with Elli, taking a trip down memory lane in Greenwich Village on the winsome Freight Train and When The Levee Breaks; where her slide work is simply exquisite. It’s been fun selecting an actual Favourite Song here; as there is so much to choose from. Although I love the first four of five power-punk Blues tracks; I’m erring towards the simplicity of the latter solo acoustic work; with De Mon’s woeful vocals and guitar picking on the charming Trouble In Mind being simply breath-taking at times; but I’m being drawn to the jaunty rendition of Lottie Kimbrough’s Wayward Girl Blues as an actual Favourite as it ticks every box I have for Acoustic/Country Blues; great story, singing, guitar playing and in this case; accompanying hand claps. While there are two very different and distinctive sides to this album; there is so much to enjoy I’m nearly lost for words. On the one hand it’s been a great introduction to Elli DeMon; but also it’s something of a gateway to the long forgotten talents of women who helped create the Blues we all love and adore 100 or more years after they first wrote and sung these songs …… and for that alone, I tip my hat to Ms Elli DeMon.
An Intricate Tapestry of Folk Shadows and Americana Light.
When I first received this album a month or so back; I was genuinely worried about playing it ……. because I wasn’t 100% sure Lady Nade could surpass or even match her 2019 release SAFE PLACE. But; after only five songs I breathed a sigh of relief; as there is a new found sense of maturity and perhaps even a strong belief in her talents not just as a songwriter; but singer too that have developed in the intervening years. Open track Willing; is an obvious single and sets the tone; sonic and aural right from the get go. Lady Nade uses her distinctive smoky and pearlescent voice to paint a simmering and melancholic set of pictures in your head that are difficult to shift; even when other songs and stories; just as strong and deep come and go with characteristic ease. On the following song, Complicated Lady Nade mines her soul for a song about a relationship that will resonate with not just young star crossed lovers but their elders too who have been in various relationships for decades …….. which is quite the clever thing to do. In other hands Lady Nade’s songs of Love, life and relationships could easily have drifted into Country territory; all they would have needed would be a slide-guitar; but instead (thankfully) she and her team have allowed the songs to build little Minecraft worlds of their own (sometimes Americana in tone others Folk); with the heartbreakers Call Yourself a Friend and Many Ways to Sink This Ship taking the listener on a journey down the road least expected; but ending up in a bedsit with tears running down their cheeks. One of the absolute joys of listening to this album; is undoubtedly the way Lady Nade uses her voice as in instrument in its own rite. As a reviewer and indeed music fan; I listen intently to the lyrics and arrangements first and foremost; but more than once I’ve found myself becoming immersed in the ‘sound’ Lady Nade and her team of exquisite musicians have created …….. almost Jazzlike at times? Like all of her contempories Nade wrote and collated these songs during the Pandemic; not that you would know it though …… although she writes about some very personal aspects of (her) life; Ain’t One Thing is a great example ….. there’s no self-pity here ……. this lady is brutally honest and as feisty as a she-cat when she needs to be. Not that you should need reminding; but this is an album that needs to be given time and space to listen to; not cherry picked on some streaming service while you’re doing the dishes ……… which brings me to the dilemma I’ve had selecting a Favourite Song. As I said earlier Willing is an obvious choice; but in and out of context in the album Wildfire, with what sounds like a choir in the background on ethereal harmonies is totally stunning; yet the punchy Rock Bottom may have been a case of ‘right time/right place’ when I’ve been listening lately …… then; there is the dramatic and skewed passion of One Sided; hopefully Lady Nade wasn’t writing from personal experience; because if she was …… DUMP HIM! Which only leaves the beautiful and intricate You’re My Number One; another which has been a ‘right place/right time’ song and absolutely timeless in style and arrangement, with tiny nods to Carole King, Joni Mitchell and perhaps our own Joan Armatrading in construction, tempo and sentiment …… but always Lady Nade. I’m pleased to say that while not a massive leap away from SAFE PLACE; this is a significant move on for Lady Nade in a career that is surely destined for stardom in whatever form that takes these days.
21st Century Film-Noir and Lo-Fi Interpretations of Six Rock and Pop Classics.
Even before this EP arrived, Dylan LeBlanc seemed to divide opinion among the gang at RMHQ; and this latest EP even more so; with two of our reviewers returning it un-reviewed, which is a first; as the guys all have eclectic taste and are usually willing to take a punt. But I ‘got it’ immediatly ……. and it’s now been on ‘heavy rotation’ in the Magmobile for three consecutive days (to the detriment of some higher profile imminent releases). It would be wrong to say this release Peaks with the opening track; Play With Fire (a much loved but ignored Rolling Stones single); but nothing else quite capture the ethereal spirit and gut wrenching beauty of these exquisite few minutes. Where the original erred on the side of Psychedelic Pop; LeBlanc has stripped it back to bone and gristle then slowly building the claustrophobic orchestral layers bit by bit; so you hardly notice them …… until you realise you’ve pressed ‘repeat’ six times in a row ….. or perhaps that’s just me. So far I haven’t even glanced at the accompanying Press Release for fear of discovering Dylan LeBlanc intended something different from what I’ve heard and fallen deeply in love with. This is followed by the Buffalo Springfield’s Expecting to Fly; a reasonably verbatim version; but the more you hear it; actually takes on a whole new direction ……. 21st Century Lo-Fi? The only song of the six on offer that I didn’t know is JJ Cale’s Sensitive Kind; and phwoar does Dylan LeBlanc do the great man justice; even including a sublime guitar solo that Clapton would be proud of; and much like Play With Fire sounds absolutely perfect for an expensive cologne advert or a Scandi-Noir drama ….. or; we’ve recently had some great TV dramas from BBC Wales; and these could easily sit into a dark and gloomy twilight scene pre-murder or as the two detectives look longingly into each others eyes; knowing ‘it won’t happen’. All covers albums are quite subjective; pairing the old with the new and occasionally confusing the listener; LeBlanc has selected 6 very different songs and bound them in his own wonderful golden thread; with Glen Campbell’s Gentle on My Mind being the most up-tempo song here; but sounding like it’s now a Country-Noir Murder Ballad! Coming in at Track #5 is a song from the most obvious songwriter to cover on such a record; Bob Dylan …….. but which song from such a vast catalogue? Never in a million years would I have expected to hear Blind Willie McTell sung in such a perceptive and world weary manner; but LeBlanc pulls it off in a way I can only compare to The Byrds and Hollies discovering His Bobness back in the 1960’s ……. sometimes an interpretation can be better than the original …… and; it may not be for me to say so ……. but …….. The finale is quite possibly the bravest selection here …….. on what universe would you expect to hear a Folk Singer; even with the amazing backing band/orchestra LeBlanc has around him here dare to cover a Led Zeppelin song? Well; he does. Although from the completely opposite end of the spectrum to the Stones Play With Fire; again LeBlanc takes away all of the Rock pomp that this song is known for and keeps it tightly wrapped in an intricate Folk arrangement which is perfect for his sinewy and breathy singing style; and adding rumbling guitars (and sitar?) that sound as beguiling as the original did in my teenage bedroom half a century ago. My fear for this release is that many reviewers of my age will sniff and snear at the track list and then hardly bother to listen to the songs themselves; whereas (fingers crossed) the younger generation will listen with a completely open mind; as we ourselves did to albums by all of these artists and then use them as a gateway to to discovering the originals and then gallop merrily down a Rock & Roll bridleway having new adventures every week discovering brand new acts and songs.
Bringing Folk Music Right Up To Date ….. and Beyond.
A friend who knows how much I enjoy live music asked me recently if, ‘I had been to many gigs lately?’ and I explained the effects of COVID to him; with the bonus being that I could probably win on Mastermind if there was a section on ‘re-filing gig tickets in revised data order’! I have been following the revised gig schedules being posted in the Newcastle area to see if there were any ‘new to me’ acts; and I had already made a note of Chloe Foy at The Old Cinema Launderette in Durham; when a few days later along came the chance to review her first album. Chloe has released several singles that had wetted my appetite so it was great having the opportunity to see what her initial album would be like – it certainly hasn’t been a disappointment. Opening with the title track we get to hear her very smooth and gentle voice on a track that deals with coming to terms with the loss of someone close to you; in this case a father; and the reality that life often deals a less than perfect hand, BUT there are folks around to help you through these bad times. The great harmony that comes in mid track sets us up for the rest of the set. The highlight for me on the first few listens is the second track ‘Deserve’ – opening with a gentle but excellent beat that moves into a story of ‘getting more than you deserve’ as the backing reaches a crescendo to match the theme of the track. There are numerous very good female singers on the music scene these days; and Chloe certainly has the voice and range to break into that bracket and with the help of an excellent production team from Pinhole Studios in Manchester and an array of backing arrangements she can definitely become more well known – the imminent upcoming tour will certainly help. The guitars leading into ‘Work of Art’ give her the chance for the first time to demonstrate her range on a more upbeat track and I got the feeling she may be more comfortable on that type of track. On ‘Evangeline’, a more traditional type of Indie Folk tune her voice is shown to its best effect – very pleasing to the ear and blending well with the almost orchestral backing. With a track entitled ‘Asylum’ I wasn’t sure what to expect; what we get is a song that reflects possibly Chloe’s path through her early years and the reflection that she may see that she is on a different route to the one she originally envisaged. ‘Bones’ is another song that could fall into the ‘Traditional Folk’ bracket that just has the feel of being sung to an attentive audience in a small folk club/pub setting. On the second half of the album my favourite was ‘Left – Centred Weight’, a track where again, she hits just the right mark to make the most of an excellent guitar led backing. A track that could easily be found on a Kasey Chambers album in my opinion. The final track ‘ Square Face,’ with its piano accompaniment complimenting Chloe’s delivery of a sad end to a relationship – Contemporary Folk is the label on a couple of music outlets but to me, that sort of narrows the potential listening audience……. Chloe Foy sits firmly in the singer-songwriter bracket made famous in the 60’s and 70’s. She certainly has an album of great melodies and a voice that; as I mentioned above handles both upbeat and more ‘folkie’ tracks with equal aplomb. After several years of trying to balance her song writing with the need to get over the loss of a parent she may not have got it totally 100% right; but she gets very close to it. This is an album that slowly, but surely grows on you and I found I was going back to several tracks for another deeper listen that taken out of the context of an album; are capable of really tugging at your heartstrings. I look forward to seeing how Chloe Foy’s career and her music develop in the next few years.
Joana Serrat Hardcore From the Heart Loose Records
An Album Full of Delicate Charm and Tender Beauty, Yet You Should PLAY LOUD!
On this, the first album from Catalonian singer-songwriter Joana Serrat since 2017’s “Dripping Springs”, Ms Serrat continues to find and expand her musical voice – now swathed in reverb and washes on keyboard pads and guitar, this album creates an epic, yet intimate soundscape that evokes comparison with the likes of Richard Hawley, Mazzy Star – and vocally – with California’s Jade Jackson. The first of the ten tracks, “Easy” takes a Spectoresque Righteous Brothers string sound and a 21st century rhythm and structure, building with increasing musical modernity to a climatic declaration that “my soul deserves it easy”. “Pictures” which follows takes more of an urgent 80’s electronic path, whereas “These Roads” meanders along a mellower route; with jangling guitar that sounds like it escaped from the soundtrack of a John Hughes’ movie, overlaid with a tender, occasionally fractured and breathy vocal. “You’re With Me” has moments in its backing that are reminiscent of Berlin’s “You Take My Breath Away;” but the bombast of that song is replaced with a gentle, emotional romance in Serrat’s delivery. “Summer Never Ends” goes down another delicate notch and here the vocal comparisons with Jade Jackson are most striking – there’s a weary fragility and occasional tremulousness that both share that’s strongly in evidence here. “The eternal question “How To Make You Love Mme” is posed in another gentle tune that contains guitar work that evokes U2’s the Edge at his finest. The tempo lifts a little on “Demons” where lyrical darkness and musical light are juxtaposed, before “Take Me Back” with its tightly wrapped confessional delicacy. “Hotel Room 609” has a similar a title to a Richard Hawley track (about shooting up heroin!) but Serrat’s perspective, while leaning towards the lyrical melancholy with Mazzy Star-like atmospherics, doesn’t go quite as dark. Album closer “Wild Beast” with its finger-picked guitar carries musical echoes of the The Replacements “If only you were lonely” albeit with a more mature and tender introspection. Throughout, Joana Serrat has produced an album of delicate charm and tender beauty that deserves a much wider audience.