STYLE: Blues RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 174528-28020 LABEL: Independent FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1
Reviewed by Lins Honeyman
Dundee-based blues outfit the Simon Kennedy Band turned some heads with their well-received debut 'Make Up Your Mind' back in 2014 and fans of the group's unique brand of sophisticated electric blues with a gospel edge have had a long but ultimately rewarding wait for the follow up. Now a three piece consisting of founder members Kennedy (vocals, guitar) and Hammond virtuoso Mirek Hodun plus the group's third occupant of the drum stool Richard Kennedy, that difficult second album syndrome is batted right out of the park with the technically impressive opener "Jacket Potato" which acts as an instrumental overture for a collection of songs that showcase the sheer musical talent of all three members and their collective ability to turn out something truly impressive. Simon has never been afraid to wear the influence of his musical heroes on his sleeve and there are definite hints of the Allman Brothers in the aforementioned opener whilst his fluid soloing on the likes of the title track - featuring a fine guest vocal from Unoma Okudo - sounds uncannily like Eric Clapton in his heyday. Nonetheless, all involved ensure that proceedings don't go anywhere near tribute act territory and the interplay between Simon and Mirek - surely amongst the best blues soloists in the UK at the moment - offers up something genuinely inimitable. Whilst tracks like the ode to peace, love and tolerance "Without Love" and the defiant "He's Alright (He's Alright)" contain elements of spiritual and social comment, Simon's lyrics can't help but take second place in the light of the instrumental brilliance found on each track - not a slight on Simon's thoughtful writing though and certainly a "problem" any band worth their salt would be more than happy to contend with. Referencing the Christian message with measure, tracks like "Justified", "Brand New Day" and a cover of Beth Hart's "Spirit Of God" - the latter seeing Scottish singer/songwriter Ellyn Oliver take the vocal spotlight with a convincing Texan drawl - promote looking upwards for solutions before a skilful recreation of Robben Ford's satisfyingly sprawling instrumental version of the old gospel tune "On That Morning" closes a stunning release from a band very much at the top of their game.
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