Sound — 7
This is not quite a straight-up blues album. There are some jazz influences incorporated, not to mention a smidgen of rock n' roll guitar playing during one or two solos. Owen Pyrah's songAkrasiaeven includes some electronic influence, almost becoming the sound track to a game boy game: this is a compliment. Since it is I who reviewed the previous album, I should perhaps have some extra insight to offer. I can offer insight on two counts: On the first, there have been some personnel changes, and on the second, this time round none of the songs are covers. The production is, for me, is a high point. Those who seek sleeker sounding blues and jazz should look elsewhere, but in this case the balance between raw and polished is at its optimum, so Martin Haywood should be proud of his production work. For me this album has highlights within all of the songs, but I'll only go through just a few, before leaving it up to the individual to seek out further joys with which to fuel one's hedonistic indulgences. Amanda Moles' Geek Town initiates with a clever, gliding riff that sounds like what could be a refined low-tempo intro to Sex and the City in twenty years time, when the girls are wiser and more privy as to how to conduct relationships. Contributions as poised and elegant as Martin Haywood's Take My Hand warrant a listen, with its meandering guitar licks that should leave the listener satisfied; but although the licks are interesting enough, perhaps one could accuse the composition of lacking a little bit of groove. Then again, this minimalistic approach might be just what Haywood's intentions were in the first place. It's just difficult to tell at times. I think that this is what establishes Jamie Hunter's I-IV-V as the album's exemplary track, though with a bit of tweaking Take My Hand could have challenged it to a greater extent. Hunter's great advantage is his industrious utilization of dynamics in his endeavours to create a powerful atmosphere to his song. An honourable mention must go to Philippe Salmon, whose Un Ciel Sans Nuages epitomizes all that can go right when playing the Blues with a Hawaiian swing- my description certainly does this masterpiece NO justice.
Lyrics — 7
James Hayes and Steve Ireland both give their best in the singing department, but although there is nothing inherently wrong with either track, I just feel that the album would have flowed better had it been purely instrumental. Barring that, both Hayes and Ireland should perhaps have convinced the rest of the blues brothers (and sisters) to incorporate vocals in their compositions: this 7 is for the two who dared!
Overall Impression — 8
The Blues and Jazz forum is one of the most industrious on UG. It hasn't been long since the members' last effort took UG by storm, and, this time with all proceeds going to Tipitina's Foundation, look to do so yet again. It's available for download at just 7.99 or $9.99, and with the proceeds going to a music supporting Charity, this is all DIY, Principle, and skill. Don't be stingy!