Reviews roundup – Martin Barre vs. Berry Quincy vs. Noah Wotherspoon Band vs. Celia Rose
Back To Steel
One time Jethro Tull guitarist Martin Barre spent the best part of 35 years standing next to Ian Anderson, but with that all behind him, he’s spent the last couple of years hitting the road and carving out a new position for himself. Something that this new album will do a lot to assist with.
For sure, he’ still looking back as versions of ‘Skating Away’ and ‘Slow Marching Band’ from “War Child” and “Broadsword and the Beast”, respectively, are present and correct, but in the main he’s headed off in a blues rock direction.
Something he is very good at indeed, as befits a guitarist lauded by multiple generations. Singer Dan Crisp is in good voice, and when the female harmonies kick in, it’s a mighty fine sound. There a few instrumental for those who just want to hear the Barre guitar, while songs like ‘You And I’ and ‘Moment Of Madness’ have you wondering why he didn’t make more of songwriting stand in his younger days.
It’s a good album. One for the faithful, and beyond.
Off to Belgium for some seventies soft rock now, and the oddly named Berry Quincy, who are a band and not a person.
And it’s a really good record, if you yearn for the days when 10cc and the Eagles would take a ballad with guitars into the toppermost of the poppermost. This is their second album, following on from a 2013 debut, and if some of these songs blagged their way onto BBC Radio 2, then they could really make a name for themselves.
They really excel at harmonies, which makes songs like ‘Old Man’ and ‘Sweet Motel’ real treats. It’s all helped along by a really strong production, and the vocals of Dirk Leemans really suit the material. They’ve got interesting arrangements to help tunes like ‘Subtle World’ and ‘End Of The Line’ come to life, and the whole record is an unexpected treat.
NOAH WOTHERSPOON BAND
Teenage prodigy Noah Wotherspoon is now in his thirties, but still looks almost as fresh faced as he was opening for Derek Trucks as a thirteen year old boy. Within a couple of years of that, he’s also opened for Leon Russell and Boz Scaggs.
He;s had several albums out over the years, in a variety of incarnations, but his latest “Mystic Mud” might be the one to push him up the league table of modern blues performers. Because it really is good.
Of course, he has other interests, which may be why the big break has eluded him since his Top 10 blues “Buzz Me”, over a decade ago. He’s written songs, performed in an Americana duo and in an alt-rock band, but this seems to be where his talents really lie. Whether it’s out and out blues rock, slide guitar workouts or even SRV type shuffles, songs like ‘What’s Gonna Become Of Me’, ‘Highway Song’ and ‘Woke Up Without You’ should rekindle his blues mojo.
I suspect that, ideologically, Ms Rose and I would disagree on just about everything, but musically I can’t help but admire and enjoy what she does.
She’s been about a bit, and this is her fourth album. Her music has seen her leave her native Alabama for some worldwide adventures including Haiti where she merged her folk and country style songs with the local kompa, working with a local band called Wesli Band. Then it was off to France and a band called Wrapped In Rain, who ended up touring as U.S. Cultural Ambassadors to Africa.
Then it was New York, back to Haiti, before ending up in Calgary, Canada for this record which sees her mix up folk, country, roots and seventies singer songwriter styles to great effect on some truly excellent songs like the title track, ‘Frozen Town’ and ‘Fairy Tale’, any one of which would enhance mainstream radio. characters and much more.
If that weren’t enough, she will have a novel out by the time you read this. A bit of a renaissance woman, this is a record well worth hearing.