Albany Down are the kind of guys that you can safely take home to meet mother. You will not find them rough-housing in the town square and vomiting on the petunias. No, they will be diligently practising their chord progressions in the studio.
But this doesn’t mean that they do not have passion in their hearts, nor urges in their loins and fire in their young bellies. For sure, these musicians can gather a lot of bile and fury when the time seems right. They are, after all, the 21st century blues-men.
Opening track ‘Back Again’ has a ghostly echo to it, and a decidedly Eastern flavour. The guitar hookah creates a smokescreen for the seven veils of sound to diffuse out and to drift. But then a thunder of drums announces a dirty riff that rumbles in like the sleeper lines on Highway 61. The chorus has a hook that is as sharp as a spearfish and as deadly as the fangs on a saw scaled viper. You’re gonna love this one.
“You’d Better Run” sings Paul Muir on the next track. He has a loaded gun, and he is overflowing with brutal intent. This revenge filled song sparkles with a fierce energy and a fervid desire for justice. That voice reminds us of Paul Rodgers – it has the same manly and hirsute quality. Guitars by Paul Turley are talkative and they really fizz. This song ferments with the kind of hidden rage that causes passion to rise.
‘Take The Town’ bristles and burns. The good old rock ‘n’ roll pace is beautifully brought to life with some crisp drum work from Damien Campbell, and the guitar is funky and muddy. Soon the whole song crackles to life and chugs merrily up a gear. Then ‘Man Like Me’ paces in with a melancholic insistence and that trademark slow-burn. The gleaming guitars on this track have lacy tendrils. But it is the vocalization that will really create a flicker in the deep recesses of your heart chamber. This song reminded us of Wishbone Ash (especially Wishbone Four period.) It’s fascinating and creative.
Title track ‘Not Over Yet’ is a fast paced burner. The vocals almost spill out of the bag. It’s the song that will lift Albany Down out from those smoky blues clubs and into YouTube and Kerrang! territory.
‘My Lucky Streak’ has a vintage feel to it. You are taken back to Berry-era fifties. This song even has a slice of chortling blues harp ( Paul T). It has mediating, crisp drums and the kind of dirty chords that you might associate with Bill Haley & His Comets.
For really poignant weeping blues though, head straight for ‘You Ain’t Coming Home’. Those months spent on the road – in company with some of the greatest blues players on the planet – have rubbed off. This stands head and shoulders above anything else that you’ve heard before from the band. The guitar-work reminded us of David Gilmour. And when the climax comes – and it will – you will quiver in admiration.
More Middle-Eastern promise comes with the stadium sized rocker ‘She’s The Light’. It is here that we really witness the extraordinary talent of Damien on drums. His ambitious percussive style elevates this song to a higher plane. Some elements of this album were recorded in a gym – giving songs like this fervent hymn to love – “That big open Zeppelin sound.” It is passion exemplified in song.
‘You Wanna Be My Baby’ takes us back a few decades. It is mature and intoxicating. It drags us behind the scenes of a dingy basement blues bar in down-town Chicago. There, we will spend our time looking mawkishly into the fading lamplight. The next track, ‘Travelling Blues’ squeezes big guitar riffs tight against the chest, and is as fast paced and as jerky as a rum-runner in a squall.
The final number on this stunning new album is an epic ode. Running more than seven minutes, “The Working Man” is a heartfelt piece about hectic work / life balance – and the daily debt that grows when time runs out and relationships falter. Who’d be a working man? With moving lyrics like “Take a look at my face, can’t you see I’m falling?” this song steps ruefully towards the gnawing finality of those words: “You gotta help me out”. The crunchy guitar creates a painful rain of sound that spatters against a dark asphalt of drums – whilst Billy Dedman creates an aura of suspense and foreboding with some bass guitar growl. “We gotta fight for the working man.” Yeah, we have. And this is the song that may stir us to action.
This modern collection of songs cleverly spans the gap between vintage era blues and the contemporary definition of blues rock. It tells the story of what it is like to be a young journeyman musician in the 21st century – bursting with the same ambition and verve as his forefathers – and still toiling and moiling on that eternal “Blues Highway”.
– © Neil_Mach April 2013 –