I have been following Red Dirt Skinners for a few years now and it has been fascinating to see the way that they have grown and developed.

When they emigrated to Canada last year I was intrigued as to how their music might change given the scene in Canada and their battles with the ‘Blues Police’ in the UK.
Would they travel further towards the folk and jazz sides of their music or would they become a Blues band in another territory and lose part of their soul in the process?

What seems to have happened is that the Blues elements of their music has all but disappeared while their sound has become richer and more positive, really developing a very unique identity – sounding like no-one else I can think of.

The core of their new sound, even more than before, is their harmonies – Rob & Sarah Skinner both possess fine voices but they haven’t gelled together the way that they do here. There were times when I found it almost impossible to separate their vocals so that they were producing multi-octave tones without gaps.

Their playing has also developed – Sarah is an accomplished soprano saxophonist but she has become far more focussed and when she takes the lead in a song her playing is a real anchor point for the song. Rob’s percussion and vocals are far more committed than I remember them and his guitar playing has really become a force.

The theme of the album is really to represent the positive feelings they have over their move to Canada and all through the album they really put over positive vibes and a sense of deep satisfaction. One of those albums that you can actually listen to to get your mood lifted rather than to just enjoy.

Eight of the nine numbers are originals while their cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Comfortably Numb’ (approved by the bands publishers) is wonderful, turning the idea of over-medication into one of the satisfaction of finally finding yourself where you want to be as opposed to merely handling what life has left you with.

The self-penned numbers include the biographical ‘Crawford’ which opens with those wonderful harmonies and adds the richness of strings, the sublimely discordant ‘Blossom & Rain’ with a dark and sombre metre and the title track which comes across as a promise to themselves to make the move to a place “Under utopian skies”

The album has remarkable heart and depth, really collecting the emotions of the two and for anyone who relishes music that ploughs its own furrow it really should be essential.

http://reddirtskinners.com/

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