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Saturday, 25 April 2015

An Eye To The Local Scene: Maddie Jones, The Luke Doherty Band, Celtic Pride

Maddie Jones: Vita Brevis (Self Released)

So little away from are normal remit here but Cardiff based singer songwriter Maddie Jones has crafted an album that is so musically dextrose and beautiful that it would be a shame to ignore it. Her distinct smouldering vocals are backed by a lush soundscape of music behind her. Drawing influences from everywhere her track Not Made For This is the soundtrack to a movie set in smoky jazz club (possibly featuring Humphrey Bogart), Don't Sit Still is a stripped back affair with just Maddie's acoustic guitar, a cello and a viola setting the scene as Jones uses her stunning vocals to cast a spell on the listener, she has a fragility to her vocal that can move into a deafening roar at a drop of a hat. As I said the album is a myriad of styles and influences with the band backing her ably to create the musical vision, She Was Young features some funk with repetitive guitar driving the song along as the synths simmer under the surface. Jones plays multiple instruments on this album, including the ukulele and the clarinet but Charlie Francis holds his own with bass, keys, guitars, percussion and produces the album expertly to really emphasise the multiple layers of sound, he is aided by Daniel Fitzgerald's guitar playing, Laurence Wickham's drums, which are most effective on the ominous Dirty Little Secret and Richard Jackson's piano and keys topping off the bands multiple instrumentalists. The performances by all involved are amazing and they really flesh out the songs brilliantly taking them above and beyond the normal singer-songwriter faire, with elements of Sara Bareillies, Joni Mitchell, Norah Jones, Carole King and Anna Calvi, Maddie Jones has created a very professional, exciting and eclectic album full of well written, composed and performed songs that just sizzle with expertise of an artist far wiser and well travelled than Ms Jones, this album is a fantastic piece of work from an artist that deserves to be noticed. 9/10     

The Luke Doherty Band: Six Strings And Stetson (Self Release)

Right I'll get this out of the way now, I you don't like Stevie Ray Vaughan (Why wouldn't you?) then The Luke Doherty Band will not be for you; however if you, like me love the smooth Texan guitar tone of SRV and old school honky-tonk blues playing at it's finest then TLDB will be for you. The man himself handles the six strings with some serious chops, 12 bar blues is the name of the game with the same kind of reverbed strutting guitar work as SRV as well as Billy Gibbons and Rory Gallagher and if these comparisons aren't indicators of his talent then I don't know what is. Happily is band are no slouches, from the opening slavo of Solar Flares On The Sun we get cowbell pounding percussion from Simon Parratt and the parping blues harp of frontman Paul Morgan who also has voice that sounds like a soul singer after too much honey whiskey and while he doesn't stand out too much on the first track bassist Ant Biggs is the shuffle behind Hope Some Rain Will Come. The album gives you the full spectrum of blues playing as Caught In This Light has the choo-choo shuffle of Howlin Wolf  or John Lee Hooker while Fantasy Girl and 0834 has the cheeky, sleazy lyrics of ZZ Top although Standing On A Rock is pure Top, while 100 Bricks has a little of Hendrix in it's gospel-like offering and we go back to Rory and SRV on Hey Man and Fish Bone. This is a true blues album from the Newport guitarist, old school blues played with soul and a live-in-the-studio feel, turn it up and let your booty shake! 8/10     

Celtic Pride: Light Up The Sky (Self Released)

Celtic Pride made their name in the late 90's relying on a very classic hard rock/metal sound forged in the mid 80's. Celtic Pride were formed by ex-Man and multiple session man Bob Richards on drums and Don and Rob Williams providing the dual axe attack, these men remain to this day and Light Up The Sky is their second album after numerous line up changes between this album and their last they have settled on their 'classic' or in their words legendary line up with Dom Hill on bass and Justin Matthews on vocals. The album is full of muscular hard rock and melodic metal with touches of AOR on the slower tracks like Shine On the World which features some great fret melting from Don Williams and impassioned vocals from Matthews. With nods to the classics Celtic Pride have elements of Lizzy especially on the celtic flourishes of the title track, some AC/DC like chest beating on Bar Room Brawl a healthy dose of Y&T and of course some Maiden especially on The Patriot which features special guest (and Bob Richards' former bandmate) Adrian Smith on guitar. Celtic Pride have produced a great effort with some hard rocking tracks that emulate the golden years of British (or in this case Welsh) hard rock. 7/10 

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