Jelly Roll Records (label)
31 August 2020 (released)
31 August 2020
The last release by The Devil’s Jukebox – ‘Sure Is Righteous’ - was an up-tempo burlesque romp, full of raunchy and risqué tunes and with a sense of naughty delight in every track.
This one is much darker, deeper and full of passion. Still very much in Ezekiel Bordello’s favourite thirties inspired vaudeville and brothel style but this time he has gone deeply into the Blues and even Bluegrass for his musical accents.
Somehow, it is the perfect album for 2020.
Describing themselves as “Leeds finest Hokum Band” the line-up consists of banjo, ukulele, clarinet, occasional tuba, Harmonium, double bass and drums and they even introduce the electric slide ukulele, but the only vocal this time around is Bordello so it takes on a more personal tone. The last album felt as though it was designed for the dance hall but this is a far more enclosed affair, completely appropriate for a world where live performances are so limited.
The album has a full coterie of different emotions encapsulated within its 12 tracks and the darker and more sombre numbers are beautifully balanced by the more jazzy and light songs. Bordello’s vocals remarkably cover a multi-octave range and he sounds to be equally at home with slow and dense singing as with joyous gin-joint tunes.
There are standout numbers all over the album. ‘The Uptown Players Ball’ has a wonderfully infectious groove as well as a superb clarinet solo, ‘When The Levee Breaks’ is lonely and intense and features a simple ukulele riff alongside Bordello’s heartfelt and singular vocal, the frantic and rocking ‘Whiskey & Women’ is mad and fun but my personal favourite is ‘The Ballad Of Calico Jones’ which starts out dark and melancholy and just gets darker and more strident as the track progresses.
The Devil’s Jukebox are not prolific but they are a band I keep a weather eye out for as all their previous releases have brough me real joy.
‘Laughter In The Dark’ is a must have for anyone who likes their music with a proper sense of twist.