Random Axe 2018
Brooklyn-rooted collective finally find their feet to try and walk away from blues that’s here to stay.
It took this ensemble five years to consolidate the various strands that made 2013’s “Shorts” to scatter all over the place in stylistic terms into something less extravagant yet more emotionally focused. What could be more organic, as the musicians maintain, than love – their principal concern? And concerned they are, indeed.
A wide-eyed wonder might unfold in “For The Rising Sun” but the opener’s optimistic outlook, taken higher and higher on guitar harmonies, will prove to be rather deceptive, with “Things That Make Me Cry” providing, further down the line, a more fitting – lyrically and acoustically – characteristic to the album’s main motif. As the title track sees gloom gather around its playful funk (yes, such scenario is possible in Zan Burnham’s six-string world where “natch” is a keyword), the tribal rumble of “Where There’s Smoke” suggests danger, Sabrina Clery and Philip Dessinger’s vocal dialogue invoking a “Gimme Shelter” shamanism, so there’s concept lurking on this record, a tongue-in-cheek one.
Even though the countrified balladry behind “He’s Coming Home” can’t probably refer to a certain “Sgt. Pepper’s” piece, the psychedelic jive of “Here I Go Again” plays mind games with the listener who’s bound to become increasingly transfixed by what’s going on there – and the transparent “Mystery” only intensifies this finely detailed state. Still, no way out wouldn’t be an option for this band and, distilling “Dem Blues Is Bad” to the leader’s jagged voice and raw strum before Marko Djordjevic’s drums and vibes spice it up, they turn grief into smile, while the heavy rockabilly of “Let It Go” has anxiety reinstated for “These Dreams” to get lost in electric despair. Fortunately, “Champagne Enthusiasm” – the record’s finale, a suitably scintillating old-time lounge lullaby – will lift the darkness for good to lend it to night-time… which is only natural and, therefore, must be real, making the album an endearing endeavor.