MUTTER SLATER BAND – The Champ

Angel Air 2016

MUTTER SLATER BAND - The Champ

MUTTER SLATER BAND –
The Champ

Fire-and-brimstone rhythm-and-blues from the man in a bowler hat who takes it on the chin.

A comedy corner occupant in STACKRIDGE, Mutter Slater’s smile is a rare sight when he’s left to his own devices, and the veteran’s third album has pushed him further into doomsday gloom. With the record’s title indicating Slater’s stubborn stance, and the titular song praising love, there’s a lot of anger aimed at the ways of this cruel world, as well as sarcasm and righteous questioning. Opener “Even Love?” has it all set up to an unexpectedly bluesy agenda for the sax-sprayed pessimism to cast a shadow across the nine cuts until “I’m Not The Man” offers a velvet lullaby and turns the shadow of anxiety into a sweet night.

Spiritual to the core, especially when organ strains seep through hefty strum, songs such as “Love Affair With Pain” place murk even in the sunniest of funky contexts and find Mutter envisaging gallows in the end of the tunnel but dancing to the light nevertheless because there is a light. And pleasures in life, too – “We can’t deny our comforts” is a punchline of the brisk “Icing On The Cake” – so not for nothing Slater is crooning that “the Devil can wait for awhile” in “I May Not Be An Angel” before “Jesus In The Backyard” wraps faith in a throb of humor to chase Satan away. That’s a feat, to be laughing in the face of adversity and shape triumph out of it; and that’s what the veteran does here, without climbing up the pedestal.

Heaven can wait, too, you know.

****1/4

October 12, 2016

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