Cast Iron (label)
03 August 2015 (released)
28 July 2015
The first thing that strikes you about this album is the terrific sense of fun and enjoyment of the music that they are creating. It isn’t lightweight in any way but these highly accomplished musicians are clearly doing a thing that they love and that thing is a style of Blues that harks back to the depression and thirties but with a real British sound.
12 tracks on the album, 11 written by John Cee and a cover of Blind Blake’s ‘Lead Hearted Blues’ and in the main they are superb.
From the jazz influenced ‘I Don’t Want You Anymore’ with super harmonica work by Howard Birchmore, told in classic story mode, to ‘The Story’ which talks about a guy who is down on his luck and in a downward spiral, beautifully played with a great violin by guest artist Simon Mayer and lovely backing vocals by Nicole Johnson.
‘Poverty Blues’ sees John Cee playing an Ozark resonator guitar with massive backing featuring double bass and electric guitar from Mike Baker – this one was inspired by a BBC documentary about the middle class Americans who had lost their jobs after 2008 and ended up living in a tent city in cities like Detroit.
The title track is a lovely ditty with yet more super harmonica about marital disharmony – “I’d rather be drunk as a skunk than stone cold sober with you”.
The aforementioned ‘Lead Hearted Blues’ has a very Memphis feel about it and not a long way away from the original – Blake was famous for his ragtime styled guitar - but with a deft touch and great, simple playing.
My favourite track on the album is probably ‘Worse Off Than You’ – played sparely and with great honesty, no big playing and the solos are sympathetic. It is closely followed by ‘I Dream The Blues’ and the pairing is classic and a great example of Blues.
This probably won’t appeal to the Blues/Rock fraternity but this is music with real feel for the Blues and I’d love to see this in a small club or folk club.
Really does hit the spot.