I get a lot of bands and artists asking me to review their new album/single/video and I try to at least listen to most of them, but, to be honest, around 75% are basic beyond bothering with. One of the exceptions is this excellent release from Django Blackheart, a band from Australia who incorporate many good things into a package that is at once familiar and also fresh.
Singer Tom Walker has a gruff and growly vocal style, very much like Wily Bo Walker or Ian Siegal (although I think he would say closer to Capt Beefheart), and also blows a very tasty harmonica and he works really well with the rhythm section of Pedro Mello – a Brazilian drummer & percussionist – and bass player Mitch Mitchell. Rhythm guitarist Steve Saunders adds a very stable core and Doug Brown plays some fine lead guitar.
So far, a fairly common lineup for a Blues band. What sets them aside from the many though, is the sheer quality of the songwriting on the album (all are originals - 10 by Tom Walker and 2 by Doug Brown) and a playing style that seems to show a very comprehensive knowledge of the Blues and of melodic music in general.
No one song is really representative of the band but opener ‘Dreams I Had’ featuring a hard harp from Walker sets their stall out really well. Walker’s vocal is particularly harsh but the song has a pleasant rhythm and sets up a bit of a dichotomy of styles. ‘Snake In The Woodpile’ is very strong rhythmically and shows a slightly softer vocal style – percussion on this one is really groove ridden and it takes on a sort of New Orleans roll to it. ‘Burning’ is straight rhythm & Blues and has a wonderful Dr Feelgood vibe to it.
It’s a good album, very listenable and very easy to enjoy. They don’t make any grandiose statements or create anything we haven’t heard before but ‘Blues, Roots and Other Fruits’ definitely goes down as one of the albums I have enjoyed a lot this year and a superb debut.