Until The Sun 2022
Phoenix phantoms of blues-wailing bring materialize in the flesh before the audience and bring the haunted house down.
Delivering a live album after just a couple studio opuses may seem like an audacious step for a lot of lesser ensembles, yet this band’s abandon allowed them not only grace the stage of a home-turf club during the Covid pandemic but also present the public with a freshly composed material that displayed the collective’s deeper dive into the blues than one could expect from 2021’s "Drowning In Blue" which put the quartet on many a listener’s map. Loath to rely on covers, although dusting off a doublet of staples to keep the punters on their toes, the foursome unravel an arresting array of future classics whose tunes are highly charged and whose performances are succulent.
Such an attitude should leave no place for gaining momentum, so the quartet take the bluesy bull by the horns right away, with the appropriately titled “Battle Cry” where funky riff and strum support Alyssa Swartz’s guttural purr that builds triumphal tension on the groovy ground the group make shiver and shake before “The 4th Turning” bares its nervous balladry to first show their vulnerable underbelly and then introduce heavy edge to their bravado-based verve. As Brandon Teskey’s epic guitar solos fathom the ensemble’s sensual scope and Bruce Jensen’s bass runs anchor the drive, the palate is prepared to relish trad tropes, and smoldering cuts like “Hell Of A Thing” and Etta James’ “At Last” provide the players with an opportunity to serve those in spades, while raging vocals drench the desperate “Death In Disguise” and the folksy “Unborn” in bitter tears, and Chris Tex’s drums and cymbals propel the rocking “Diamonds In The Dust” to deliciously delirious rawness.
And then there’s a nigh on anthemic “Arisen” to draw drama from the voice and six-string call-and-response, as well as from the gradually intensifying rhythm, until “Burning Home” – the sole previously released song here, indicating the band’s progress in the last few years and almost bringing the night to a glorious close. Almost – because the four Arizonans offer an encore: a rather faithful, if slightly sludgy, reading of “Whole Lotta Love” that sees the singer let her hair down to roar and the instrumentalists go off on a tangent to push their improvisatory talents to the fore. Given how vigorous the new numbers are in concert versions, reproducing these in a studio setting might be unwise, which is why this live recording will whet a fan’s appetite: it’s simply great.