Here are some reviews of CD's. Title says it all really.....
Notable lyrics from World Of Misery:
Whoever said her love was kind must be drunk
It feels more like an open cut, an infection
01: Now You See Me
02: Why Why Why
03: Cry Woman
04: We're Not The Same
05: Dancing With The Devil
06: World Of Misery
07: Down Little Mama
08: Running In Circles
10: Vambo Rools
11: Fast Car
Vambo - by Vambo
Release: 25th October 2019
Cat # Goliath04CD
Having seen Vambo live a number of times my expectations for their debut eponymous album were soon shattered on first listening. The four piece are a lively bundle of rocking excitement on stage so I was expecting a rough and ready rock album, full of vim and vigour. In contrast the new offering is a remarkably sophisticated collection of work with unexpected diversity and a huge maturity for a young band. And importantly still has the excitement of a freshman offering. The production is excellent, courtesy of Ray Stiles (MUD/The Hollies), which is evident as the album wends its way through assorted influences.
First track Now You See Me is fairly understated for an opening number but highlights a well written rock track with some catchy riffs and nice harmonies. It bumps along nicely and gets the toes tapping. Why Why Why has been getting some airplay on Planet Rock. Showcasing Jack Stiles extensive range of vocals, that Michael Starr would seek to emulate, and a rhythm akin to the Beatles Day Tripper, its a relatively slow groove but quite powerful. Cry Woman is a more 80's pop rock track that reeks of shoulder pads and silver suits. You can imagine Stiles pouting into a vaselined camera lens and the girls swooning. It feels very heavily produced, as did much 70's soft rock, but Pete Lances guitar licks lift it up. Another track where the harmonies are prominent. We're Not The Same takes a different turn. Its a slow chugging track which reminds me of Tony Iommi's first solo album. It's almost haunting and probably the first track that really embedded itself in my brain. The structure is similar to early Queen with interesting fills and vocal snippets. I would love to see them perform this one live.
Dancing With The Devil adds a little piano for a romantic little number. Every album should have a ballad and this one is another that could have come from an 80's AOR band. World Of Misery brings us back to the now with a more upbeat rock track. I would have liked the underlying riff to be a bit more ballsy, it could have put this in the Whole Lotta Love category, but its still a good track. Down Little Mama dirties up a little further whilst Running In Circles is back to a synth rock ballad. It's a little formulaic but has a nice bridge element from Lance that will have bedroom guitarists looking to emulate.
Camouflage is another guitar heavy rock with elements of Whitesnake and Deep Purple, bands that have clearly influenced them, which is no bad thing. Vambo Roolz starts with deep southern slide for a lovely slow groove. This will presumably be the live sing along ego booster. Vambo roolz could either be a proclomation of regency or a list of instructions. You decide. The slide is exquisite throughout. Closer Fast Car is what every rock album needs - a rocking track about cars, women and high falsetto screams. A nod to Purple's Highway Star, its classic late 70's rock, with screaming guitars vocals and probably accompanying screaming groupies. A big nod must go to James Scott on bass and Steve Price on drums. The four piece are tight, thanks mainly to James and Steve. Both carry the beat throughout but shine with their own fills and thrills, although neither are overbearing or unnecessarily flashy.
As first albums go, this one is a winner. Its well produced, well played and well received. The collection of tracks is diversely interesting whilst maintaining the 70's rock theme throughout. I expected a rough around the edges garage rock album. I got a modern take on a classic rock album. My three listen rule was no chore here and the album will be getting many more hits on my playlist. Good job well done Vambo.
Erja Lyytinen - Stolen Hearts
Erja Lyytinen's tenth studio album Stolen Hearts is her latest release in her 15 year recording career that sees her team up with producer Chris Kimsey to create an album that is somewhat more diverse in styles than previous releases. The 'Finnish slide goddess' recorded the album in her homeland but it was mastered by the Master in London's Air Studios. And it's a slick production. Whilst known as a blues artist, Erja has incorporated elements of many other styles in an album that is therefore a mix of tastes. And with lyrical themes that transcend all ages there's something in it for everyone.
Stolen Hearts opening eponymous track is a fine beginning to the album with strong fret board skills and strong vocals that perfectly fit a song about a man-eating woman turned heartbroken damsel in distress. The guitar work has hints of Hendrix but this is not blues as we know it Jim.
Rocking Chair has an unusual time signature that hides what is essentially a true blues track with trademark slide guitar. A nice grooving riff pulls the song along as Erja bemoans the power of media and money driven world. Less intricate guitar work allows you to hear the delightful bends and slides. The title might make this my anthem as I make my way into my twilight years.
Love Laboratory is a far more laid back funky track that wouldn't sound amiss amongst a more pop ensemble with the likes of Adele singing. A question of what love is will have most grizzled blues listeners scratching their heads. No idea love. Again, Erja's strong vocals and guitar skills keep us interested.
24 Angels is another gentle opening track about morality and forgiveness. This suits Erja's vocals which sound smooth even when she increases the intensity. Another more pop type song, it is saved from becoming bland by the interesting key giving it a slightly mysterious sound. Influences of her recent visit to the East.
Black Ocean is a more down to earth blues track with a nice repetitive riff with a full blown guitar solo. The guitar solo is tastefully done with no excessive speed or unnecessary frills. It has that really emotional feel where one note says so much more than twenty. Not to say that Erja doesn't have technical and speed skills - they are there - she just uses them well to create a solo that sounds great. The longest track on the album, it certainly doesn't feel it.
Slowly Burning is a slow blues track describing a relationship slowly burning away to nothing. Her smooth voice again sounds just right for this sort of song that is a traditional 'feeling sorry for myself so let me take out my emotion on my Fender Strat'. Not one that will get you up and dancing, but one that may well water your beer down with a few tears.
Lover's Novels ups the tempo with a faster shuffle and the ever present slide guitar. This is the shortest track on the album, it moves along at a brisk pace and will get your toes tapping. I liked the slide guitar in this track - it's been the track I have gone back and listened to most just for the slide work. I can see where Erja gets her 'Finnish Slide Goddess' tag from.
Silver Stones is a song about Mental illness and is clearly sung from the heart - a subject that is all too close to many people. Another song that feels more pop than blues, I could imagine this being played on mainstream media. Assuming they would allow a guitar solo longer than a nano-second that is. It's probably the weakest song on the album musically but not a bad song.
Awakening is another song that mixes various styles - blues, pop - there's some nice keyboards behind the guitar and vocals. It's a song about the positives of being in love that give the song a lift above the melancholia of the blues and into the pop arena.
City Of Angels tells the story of Erja's experiences of her visit to the Californian metropolis. Highlighting those things that you would see and feel in the busy bustling city, it is an engaging track. Nice use of a quiet verse building to a more powerful chorus, this is one of the stronger tracks on the album for me. All of the components - voice, guitar, rhythm, the overall mix - are just right.
Broken Eyes is the final track on the album and is a piano melody about a broken heart - or broken eyes in this case. A stripped back sound with various chord changes, it keeps you engaged whilst you reach for your Zippo to hold sky high. It’s a fine way to end the album showcasing Erja's voice and songwriting skills. I guess it's an appropriate ending to what is an interesting mix of songs.
After ten albums it is understandable that an artist wants to introduce a fresh approach and bring in new ideas. Stolen Hearts has a mix of songs that defies the ability to label it as a blues album. It's one of those albums where some will appeal and some won't. There's no denying Erja's singing, songwriting and guitar playing talents. With a track record of playing the blues scene, it will be interesting to see which track's Erja chooses for her forthcoming tour to support the album. And maybe which track makes it for her on mainstream radio. I wish her well in both.
1. Stolen Hearts (4:42)
2. Rocking Chair (3:50)
3. Love Laboratory (4:15)
4. 24 Angels (3:57)
5. Black Ocean (7:15)
6. Slowly Burning (4:14)
7. Lover's Novels (3:32)
8. Silver Stones (4:44)
9. Awakening (4:01)
10.City Of Angels (5:22)
11.Broken Eyes (4:55)
Touhi Records 2016