Review: H.E.A.T – H.E.A.T II

earMUSIC (21/02/2020)

Reviewer: Peter Scallan

H.E.A.T are band that seem to have been around for ages yet still remain a young band and the next big thing to break. For whatever reason, they have just never made that leap into the big league. On their last album release they shook things up an bit and changed the formula they had stuck to previously, and took a little bit of criticism for that. Personally, I thought it was the best thing they had done and looked forward to them developing this direction further. However, judging by the press release it sounds like they have went to their roots, thus the name ‘H.E.A.T II‘.

Rock Your Body‘ opens the album with its pumping opening salvo and a great chop. And as you would expect it has a huge chorus. It pumps along nicely and definitively re-asserts the band’s sound. Next up is ‘Dangerous Ground‘ which lifts the pace and power somewhat and is classic H.E.A.T with some stellar vocals. ‘Come Clean‘ opens with a keyboard-driven riff, breaking down into picking guitar and once again there is a killer chorus. The arrangement cleverly changes a little each time round, keeping it fresh each time round. A more classic rock sound more akin to Rainbow/Deep Purple is next up with ‘Victory‘ and a chanting chorus. For me this is one of the weaker songs on the album. The feel changes with the opening bluesy guitar of ‘We Are Gods‘. This is powerful thundering track conveying the title perfectly, with Eric Gronwall giving it some serious big vocal licks. The pace is picked back up with ‘Adrenaline‘ and if there is such a thing sounds like typical Swedish melodic rock. With a staccato riff behind the chorus the song has another big chorus.

One By One‘ opens in a similar vein to its predecessor but drops into a completely differently melodic feel with keyboards and some choked guitar. The guitar solo is tastefully played over a more laid back break and provides a great contrast. Next up is the obligatory ballad, ‘Nothing To Say‘, and Gronwall shows he can vary his vocal styling. The song is predominantly acoustic guitar and ethereal keyboards but lifts for the chorus as do the vocals. In places, it almost has the feel of a movie soundtrack song.

Heaven Must Have Won An Angel‘ sounds like it should be a ballad from its title, but it’s a classic H.E.A.T mid-paced rocker which rattles along very nicely indeed. The opening of the next song sounds like the Scorpions to me before breaking down into a bluesy riff and then changing again into a rotating drum-pattern driven riff – great variation from the guys. Entitled ‘Under The Gun‘, it wasn’t the balls-out rocker the name suggested – great stuff. The last song on the album is ‘Rise‘ opening with some lilting keyboards before exploding into a huge guitar riff. This closes the album very much as it started with the classic H.E.A.T sound.

So what’s the verdict? Well, the guys wanted to go back to a classic sound after the experimenting of the last album and they have certainly achieved that. It oozes quality in terms of the songs and vocals and will certainly delight H.E.A.T fans. However, will it win them over a drove of new fans? I doubt it! A much as I love this album, I am kind of disappointed they didn’t go the whole way this time with the road they started down with the previous album. Regardless of my disappointment, let me be clear about it – this album seriously rocks. I dearly hope the quality of their recorded works and their kick-arse live shows get them into the big league.  If any melodic rock band that have emerged in the last decade or deserve to, its these guys. Get them album, buy your tickets for the tour – you won’t be disappointed!

Review: Ben Poole Trio /// – Live ‘19

(January 31st 2020)

Reviewer: Peter Scallan

Ben Poole is one of a wave of young up and coming blues guitarist blazing a new trail for the genre. In the short time he has been kicking about, he has certainly gathered some great accolades for his playing and live performances. Therefore, this interest was of particular interest to me! This live set is a double CD and is basically Ben with bass and drums.

The album opens with the dirty riff of ‘Take It No More‘. It’s a catchy guitar chop with an equally catchy chorus. It also has some great light and shade with Ben acquitting himself well as guitarist and with some decent vocals. Next up is ‘Win You Over‘ which falls into a more blues style rhythm with some tasteful guitar playing. However, for the vocals sounded a little lightweight and a little limited, but good none the less.

Start the Car‘ is next up and has a great groove to it and powers along with another catchy chorus. The album then drops into some slow burning blues with an extended guitar intro with ‘Have You Ever Loved a Women‘. In fact the song is extended full stop lasting over 11 mins of the Freddie King classic. While the song suits both Ben’s guitar and vocal styling perfectly, for me it just goes on a little too long.

The outstanding song for me is next and that is ‘The Question Why‘, which is perfect for Ben’s voice. It is a little more soulful and suits the breathy vocals. For the penultimate track on CD 1 the tone goes a little more funky and harder-edged for ‘Further On Down The Line‘ before the closing track goes back to being a little lighter and soulful again with a great clean guitar part for ‘Don’t Cry For Me‘.

Lying To Me‘ opens the second disc and is back to the grooving guitar riff. There is a great brooding guitar riff for the chorus. However, it only serves to highlight the fact that vocals can’t match that power or intensity of the riff. Next we have a Jeff Healy number in the shape of ‘I Think I Love You too Much‘. This is a great rendition of the song but again for me highlights the limitations of Ben’s vocals. We drop back into a more laid back song called ‘Found Out The Hard Way‘. Doing this type of song suits Ben’s vocals and guitar playing. It also has the benefit of a killer chorus.

Stay At Mine‘ opens with a great drum intro and bounces along nicely on the drum/bass rhythm and picks up the pace just when it needs it. The funk returns with ‘Anytime You Need Me‘ with another great rhythmic, pacey number and chorus. However, for me it’s just a little too self-indulgent coming in at well over 14 minutes with a number of musical interludes. The last song is another slow burner in the form of ‘Time Might Never Come‘. This is another great song but again for me is just too long, lasting over 15 minutes and too much guitar self-indulgence.

Having got to the end of this double CD set, I have mixed feelings. There are some great songs on this album and some great playing. While I get that with a blues trio there is always going to be an element of showboating from the main man, for me in this instance the really long songs just don’t hold my interest enough. I would also rather hear more of Ben’s original material! And finally, my perennial niggle of the singing blues guitarist! There are some fine examples out there of this phenomenon, with the like of the Nimmo brothers and Kris Barras to name a few. However, some of the material in this set only serves to highlight Ben should either select the material to suit his vocals or have someone share the vocals, such as a bass player with a voice that can move up a notch for the harder-edged material. Overall impression is that this is a good album but could easily be an excellent album depending on which way Ben wants to go with vocal options. Existing fans won’t be disappointed, but I don’t see this attracting too many new fans.

Hi folks, here’s the Top Ten Albums Of 2019 as chosen by reviewer Peter Scallan.

Danny Vaughn – Myths, Legends and Lies

Burnt Out Wreck – This Is Hell

Kris Barras Band – Light It Up

Matt Pearce & The Mutineers – Gotta Get Home

Beth Hart – War In My Mind

Gun – Reloaded

Grand Slam – Hit The Ground

The Magpie Salute – High Water II

Carl Dixon – Unbroken 

Jack Savoretti – Singing to Strangers

Review: Grand Slam, Bannermans, Edinburgh (5/12/19)

Reviewer: Peter Scallan

The new Grand Slam line-up has been driven by the vision of Laurence Archer to finally get some the original songs penned during the original Phil Lynott incarnation of the band recorded properly. This included Grand Slam being seen as a band and not a project. The recently released album goes a long way in proving that in spades. However, the real acid test for any band is can they deliver live?

The set opened with ‘Nineteen‘ after which just rocked from the off. The driving rhythm section and that superb guitar riff kicked the show off spectacularly with the vocals really sitting in the groove from Michael Dyer.

Next up is the wonderful ‘Gone Are The Days‘, which was the first video and single from the album. The song features some wonderful harmony guitars and I wondered how this would be achieved with only one guitarist. However, the harmonies were provided by the keyboards, played by one other than Gem Davis from FM, who also played with Laurence in UFO I believe. This song is just a genuine slice classic British rock and certainly snares the crowd.

Military Man‘ was next up kicking with some military snare and Mr. Dyer marching along. The Grand Slam version is absolutely superb, and according to Mrs. Scallan, is better than the Gary Moore version, and I tend to agree.

The only song played on the night not on the new album was ‘Harlem‘, which is another 80s Grand Slam original and executed superbly all round. One of the new compositions from the album was next, namely ‘Crazy‘. Another song driven by a great guitar riff, it again rattled along scoop up the audience with the catchy chorus and the sheer pace.

The band then returned to an old song in ‘Crime Rate‘, with Michael talking about how relevant the song is based on the stabbing epidemic in London and the fact it has happened on his own door step. This blues-based slow burner is one of my favourite songs and Michael acquits himself spectacularly in his delivery.

The title track of the album, ‘Hit the Ground‘ followed, before ‘Long Road‘ was introduced quite emotionally as it is dedicated to friend Mikael Fässberg who lost a short battle against cancer. Ironically ‘Dedication‘ was next and was dedicated to Mr Doogie White who happened to be in the audience.

The last song proper was ‘Sisters of Mercy‘ which had everybody bouncing along to the Irish jig section. The encore kicked off with Laurence demonstrating what a superb guitarist he is accompanied by Gem on keyboards before launching into the instrumental song ‘Grand Slam‘. Bringing Michael back on stage, they closed with a second rousing rendition of ‘Gone Are The Days‘.

So does the new Grand Slam stack as well live as it does on the album? Yeah bet it does and then some! I was well and truly Slammed by Grand Slam at Bannermans. With an absolutely superb set of new and classic GS material and such an accomplished band of musicians, what is not to like? In summary, superb songs, superlative playing and a charismatic and articulate front man in Michael Dyer whose voice sits right in the groove. I doff my cap to you Mr Archer and co and I would say mission accomplished thus far! I can’t wait for the next instalment of seeing you guys live!

Review: Carl Dixon – Unbroken

AOR Heaven (November 29th 2019)

Reviewer: Peter Scallan

Carl Dixon is better known as silver throated singer of Canadian melodic rockers Coney Hatch. They were the classic example of critical success and had three magnificent albums in the 1980s. The last of these was the humungous ‘Friction‘, which to this day is still one of my favourite albums. I did see Coney Hatch in 2014 at Firefest to coincide with their comeback album ‘Four‘. However, I must confess, I haven’t really kept up with Carl’s solo career, so I was intrigued to get this one to review.

Opening with ‘Can’t Love a Memory‘, this is a pacey, melodic rocker that illustrates just how much influence Dixon exerted over the Coney Hatch sound. And the man hasn’t lost his voice either! Great start! The intro of keyboards and guitar are reminiscent of Journey for the next number. Called ‘Bowl Me Over‘, once the song kicks in properly it is another riff-lade melodic rocker and I am back in 80s heyday of melodic rock. The clean guitar intro belies the pacey melodic rocker that is ‘Nothing Lasts Forever‘. Lyrically the song is obviously a biographical song about Carl’s days in 80s with Coney Hatch and takes me back to my own days in the 80s with Moritz when I lived in London.

‘Every Step of the Way‘ has an almost contemporary rock intro but then kicks into a great staccato guitar riff with overlayed lead licks. Another well-arranged and executed melodic rocker with great light and shade. There is a harmony vocal intro to ‘Summer Nights‘ but the song doesn’t turn into the poppy summertime melodic rocker I anticipated. Instead what get is a more complexly arranged number which ebbs and flows with a number of changes of beat which work well. Next up is ‘All My Love and Hopes for You‘, which is a ballad. For me this is possibly the weakest song on the album and just doesn’t really get going, albeit there is a pretty catchy chorus. Maybe one that will grow on me with a few more listens.

‘This Isn’t The End‘ opens with an archetypal Coney Hatch guitar riff and continues in that vein and could easily sit on Outa Hand, Coney Hatch’s second album. Another great melodic rocker. Continuing in that vein, ‘Drive Just Drive‘ opens up a like a track from ‘Friction‘ and is another powerful melodic riffing rocker. However, the chorus is a little weak for me compared with the rest of the song. Good none the less! Next song, ‘Roll the Dice‘, just picks up from the last song and delivers another solid slice of melodic rock with some nice guitar work too.

With a sequenced keyboard intro and guitar lick over it, ‘Keep the Faith‘ is more 80s AOR than straight forward melodic rock. Again, this song didn’t quite gel for me until after a couple of listens, but once it did it really grew on me. Last but by no means least, is the title track ‘Unbroken‘. This strangely sounds a little like Eden’s Curse with the guitar playing, especially the harmony guitars. A mid-paced rocker it fittingly brings the album to a close.

This is a great album, but unlikely to make Carl Dixon many new fans. There are some great songs here, but it lacks a little in consistency. However, there are no fillers. If you like Coney Hatch and you are looking for a new fix, then my advice would be to get a hold of this and you won’t be disappointed.

Review: Burnt Out Wreck – This Is Hell

Burnt Out Wreck (October 11th 2019)

Reviewer: Peter Scallan

This is the follow-up to the 2017 debut for Burnt Out Wreck. For those of you who don’t know, this is former Heavy Pettin’ drummer Gary Moat’s baby. However, he is the main songwriter and singer this time around. And a what singer too! Although I must confess to being a little biased here having watched this guy rip into AC/DC covers at The Venue Rock Xmas party and just think, ‘Git!’

The nine song album kicks off in arse-kicking fashion with ‘Dead or Alive‘. It opens with a riff that could sit comfortably on any classic AC/DC album. It rattles along at a fair pace and doesn’t let up at all except for a few breakdowns before kicking back up through the gears. From the outset ‘Positive‘ sounds like it could be from Powerage (my favourite DC album) and the song builds nicely into a massive bridge and chorus with huge vocals.

The amusingly-titled ‘Paddywack‘ opens up with a twelve-bar intro and the swings throughout with a great quirky chorus. We then have the straight-forward ‘Headfuck‘ which is most definitely not a song to be fucked with. While it has elements of AC/DC I can also hear other influences in there such as Judas Priest. The song just bulldozers its way through to the end and has another great chorus and some great guitar parts. ‘Guitars Amplified‘ is just that with the guitars cranked up both left and right. What a great riff the vocal melody is woven around – superb.

The title track ‘This is Hell‘ starts with a lone guitar and then another massive riff until the rest of the band kicks in – in fact with my headphones on they kicked my head in. While just as powerful, ‘Rock Hard Sticky Sweet‘ returns to more playful mood in terms of the riffage and story-telling and of course a killer chorus. ‘Just a Dog‘ moves to a more heavy blues style and grooves along nicely. There is also a very tasteful solo section too before the huge chorus kicks back in. And all too soon we are at the last song – noooooo! Entitled ‘Snow Falls Down‘ the song immortalises a famous rock pub in Glasgow called the Burns Howff. In fact if I am correct, the song is about the very last night the pub was open and as everybody spilled out into the snow filled streets we all started pelting people coming out the pub across the road. It got a little out of hand in terms of size and the police eventually arrived by which time I was standing watching on the sidelines. It was one of those I was there moments – and I remember that night Mr Moat!

Yeah – I know the album has a fair AC/DC influence and Gary sounds a little like Bon Scott in places. Yeah – I know it is hardly innovative or ground-breaking. But feck me, this album is chock-full of superb songs with more balls than an elephant after a vasectomy! It also has some superb lead guitar playing and a voice I would die for. So if this is hell, then hell ain’t a bad place to be my friends! Let’s all burn together!

Review: Black Stone Cherry – Back to the Blues 2

Mascot Records (November 1st 2019)

Reviewer: Peter Scallan

This is the second of Black Stone Cherry’s ‘Back to Blues‘ EPs. The first one was released in 2017 and received such a great reaction the guys thought they would do it again! Sandwiched in between these has been the full studio album ‘Family Tree‘, which is also much more bluesy than previous BSC offerings. Quite what the purpose of this second blues outing is, I am unsure. However, I am sure glad they did!

With only six tracks on it, the proceedings open with ‘Big Legged Woman‘, which is a Freddie King song. It swaggers along and the addition of the keyboard player pays dividend, with some great blues piano.

Next up is ‘Me and the Devil Blues‘ which also has some great electric piano in it. An original from Robert Johnson, the song has some great twin guitar parts reminiscent of the Allman Brothers. It is breaks down in the middle with the piano being more prominent providing some great light and shade in this version.

All Your Love (I Miss Loving)‘ is I believe a blues standard brought to prominence by Otis Rush and grooves along nicely on a great drum beat with some nice blues licks throughout before breaking into a twelve-bar section. The pace is picked up a little with ‘Down In The Bottom‘ which drives along on a ferocious drum rhythm and is great version of a Howlin’ Wolf song.

We then get treated to the out and out twelve-bar blues intro of ‘Early One Morning‘ before it drops down into a laid back funky rhythm that Elmore James would be proud of. The closing song opens with piano and military-style snare drums that make it sound like a Free song before the guitars kick in. The song in question is Son House’s ‘Death Letter Blues‘ and the guys absolutely rock this number.

Now I know it is an album full of standard covers, and some might say it’s for the collectors only. But I have got to say I have absolutely loved both the Back To Blues EP, and even gladder it is filtering into their original material as evidenced by Family Tree. For once it is nice to see a band grow and just get better and bigger which doesn’t really happen much these days. Perhaps there should also be a little kudos for their label and other labels should have a look at what can be achieved if you truly nurture an artist. Well done to both and long may it continue!

Review: Beth Hart – War in My Mind

Provogue / Mascot Label Group (September 27th 2019)

Reviewer: Peter Scallan

Can’t remember when I first saw this she devil of a woman but it may have been on Jools Holland’s show and just thought, WTF! What a voice and what a stage presence. I have been hooked ever since. I mean, who else would start a show at the Royal Albert Hall in the middle of the audience, singing unaccompanied and walk through said audience to the stage. So let’s get straight in there!

‘Bad Women Blues‘ starts with some contemporary woahs and electronic hand claps and then into then into big chopping verse which builds to the chorus and I am hooked on this bad woman. Blues with a contemporary twist. The opening lilting piano of ‘War on My Mind‘ gently introduces a song with deep and dark subject matter. The songs rises and falls beautifully as do Beth’s vocals. ‘Without Words in the Way‘ opens with what sounds like an upright bass and for a moment I am expecting Tom Waits to come blustering in. Instead I get Beth Hart in gentle, lilting mood and she lightly builds into the song with a jazzy feel to it. It really swings superbly in my humble opinion with piano, bass and percussion.

Let It Grow‘ moves back to a more contemporary feel with the vocoder style intro before Beth and her trusty piano pick up the thread of this song. The contemporary feel continues throughout the song with a superb chorus and the introduction of a great bank of female backing vocals giving it a slight gospel feel. Continuing with the contemporary and melodic feel I could almost image ‘Try A Little Harder‘ on an early Toto album. The song is uplifting and bounces along until the half-time breakdown for the middle eight and then leads back into an uplifting with Hart doing some Cleo Lane adlibs in places! ‘Sister Dear‘ is just classic Beth Hart and piano. With a little bass and percussion and some strings, the songs just tells its story about her sister Susan.

We are now into the second half of the twelve songs and it kicks off with a suedo-Spanish feel. Not surprising as the song is called ‘Spanish Lullaby‘. It is a full band affair with bass and drums driving along with guitar and Hart kicking up the gears a little vocally. The pace drops for ‘Rub Me For Luck‘ with electronic style percussion in the laid back verse. Just as you are lulled into a false sense of security lilting piano, the chorus bursts in and it sounds like a Bond them tune which Shirley Bassey would have been proud of! Superb!

Sugar Shack‘ sees Hart venture into an almost danceable beat reminiscent of early Stevie Nicks. The song bounces along on a pulsating hi-hat rhythm with the she devil weaving her meandering spell with her silken vocals across this song lifting and dropping as she sees fit. We crop back into some laid back blues piano for the intro to ‘Woman Down‘. The structure of the song reminds me again a little of Tom Waits with the light and shade building to a crescendo at the end with percussion and bass. The penultimate song sees Beth in a happier reflective mood with ‘Thankful‘. Returning to the more contemporary side of this album the song builds from the simple piano and vocals and slowly building with drums, bass and guitar. Sadly, we are at the last track but it is a fitting end for a Beth Hart album. ‘I Need A Hero‘ again opens with piano and vocal interplay that is this lady’s specialism. This continues throughout the song and is archetypal of some of her live performances, where the band seems to disappear and is never quite sure of when they are going to be invited back onto stage!

I am not sure if I can pour enough superlatives on this album. It’s Beth Hart adding a little contemporary feel and it works spectacularly for me. Yet it still has some of the trademark Beth Hart blues, melody and angst we have come to expect and adore. Simply fantabuloso! Roll on Valentine’s Day when myself and Mrs Scallan have the pleasure of this lady’s company at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow.

Review: Kris Barras Band – Light It Up

Provogue/Mascot Label Group (September 3th 2019)

Reviewer: Peter Scallan

The Kris Barras Band first came to my attention with the single ‘Hail Mary‘ which was a slow burner for me. On the basis of this and hearing a few other songs I acquired ‘The Divine and Dirty‘ album. This proved to be a heady mix blues and rock with a commercial bias, sounding like Bon Jovi with gonads and a decent vocal of course. Fast forward and here we have the latest opus from KBB entitled ‘Light It Up‘ which continues in the same vein and to great effect.

What You Get‘ opens the album and is bluesy, ballsy and melodic. Stradling the best of Davy Knowles and Bon Jovi it is a stomping anthem which sets the tone for ‘what you get’ from the rest of the album. ‘Broke Teeth‘ opens with a great bottleneck riff and continues in the same vein with some great female backing vocals and could be off Slippery When Blue, sorry Wet! The chorus sounds like it is paying homage to Kris’s other love of cage fighting, at which he is also meant to be pretty mean at. Next up is ‘Vegas Son‘ which I believe is a single from the album. Sounding a little like classic Pat Travers Band, the song stretches the band into more blues rock territory with a slight nod to a little reggae, ergo the Travers reference. The title track is next up entitled ‘Ignite (Light It Up)‘ and this rocks along with a killer chorus over a stonking staccato guitar riff. ‘6AM‘ takes the band back into a more laid back blues groove with a driving bass line through the chorus and of course another killer chorus. There is some nice Hammond on the song too. The slide into laid back blues continues with ‘Rain‘ which has a Nashville country feel for me. The chorus has a stripped feel and builds nicely into yet another hook-laden chorus.

‘Counterfeit People‘ takes us back to a guitar driven blues mid-paced rocker hand looking at the title I wondered if it were an observation on the music business! Great guitar riff, great vocals and catchy chorus again. The feel varies a little again with ‘Let The River Run Through You‘ walking a fine line between blues and country rock. None the less it is another stonking song reminiscent in some ways of Chris Whitley’s first album. The rock returns with ‘Bullet‘ which swaggers along through the chorus on a rhythmic bass line and of course, yeah that’s right – another killer chorus! There is also a great break down into the guitar solo. ‘Wound Up‘ opens up with a real twelve-bar rock’n’roll feel with bottleneck over the top. It then breaks down into a great chop for the verse and builds well into another pristine chorus.

As they say in the business, you can never get enough cowbell and ‘What A Way To Go‘ just proves that. This is a raucous blues rocker that doesn’t disappoint. More cowbell anybody? ‘Not Fading‘ continues in the blues rock vein opening with a great double beat with further tinges of Pat Travers. It just rocks along to the ultimate track on the album called ‘Pride is Forever‘. This has almost Bad Co feel to it with the guitar riff and the use of the slide reminiscent of Mick Ralphs with the inevitable killer chorus. Simple, but very effective and the perfect example of sometimes less is more.

Well what can I say about this album? For me it really is quite a majestic statement of intent with superb songs, playing, vocals and production. I haven’t yet seen Kris Barras Band live but I am so looking forward to seeing them when they hit Glasgow. Yeah, this is bluesy, but there is just so much more to this album in terms of melody – I am sure if he could still do it then Jon Bon Jovi would be delighted to put this out. It’s just got it all for me and a must have! Go get it – NOW!

Review: Matt Pearce and the Mutiny – Gotta Get Home

May 3rd 2019

Reviewer: Peter Scallan

Matt Pearce is the Glasgow-born guitarist from Voodoo Six. In addition to V6, he also plays in the Metalworks collective regularly and also in AOR Legends with vocal maestro Jimi Anderson. Therefore, as you can image in he is already a pretty busy boy and yet he still managed to squeeze in his first solo outing as Matt Pearce and the Mutiny. I was already hooked in when I saw the band playing last year at Winterstorm Festival in Troon on the west coast of Scotland. The band sound has been loosely labelled as blues but transcends this label somewhat as they throw a good measure of funkiness and variety into the mix.

And just to prove that point ‘Scarecrow‘, the opening track, kicks in with a funky keyboard and guitar riff that could easily be on a classic 70s Stevie Wonder album. The song bounces along nicely with an extended instrumental opening allowing Matt to introduce his chops. ‘Ordinary Blues‘ is next and opens with a great guitar riff before building into a song that could easily sit on any Black Crowes album with Jimmy Page on guitar. Ordinary it ain’t!

We then slip into a little more straight-ahead blues with ‘Like a Hammer‘. It is based on another great riff with some great organ chops in there and a great chorus with on-point female backing vocals. ‘Some People‘ takes the tone down a notch or too with a more sparse arrangement allowing the keyboards to carry the song with nice some guitar licks across them. The song builds nicely in layers with each verse and is a highlight and is very radio friendly to my ears.

‘Dig Deeper‘ takes us back to funkalicious side of the album and is driven along nicely by a funky bass/drum/guitar rhythm. And of course there is another great chorus which reminds a little of Steely Dan. We then drop into a more contemporary blues number in ‘Set Me Free‘ with some great keyboard touches and Matt takes the vocals up a little in terms of adding a little edge to them. It also features some tasteful guitar playing too.

Title track ‘Gotta Go Home‘ opens with some great bottleneck playing and the song from start to finish is just pure Black Crowes with a huge hook for a chorus and some additional great female vocals on it. The pace drops again for the opening of ‘Worried‘ which has a delta blues feel to it with the electric picking and reminds me of very early Chris Whitley in places. It is a real stripped backed number with guitar and vocals with a sparse backing arrangement. Although good, it’s possibly the weakest song and could maybe have been a little shorter. And all of a sudden we are on the last track of the album with another funked up rocker called ‘Who Do You Think You Are‘. Again it bounces and bops along with another killer chorus with a great middle eight before slipping into great piano breakdown and then launching into a tasty hook-laden guitar solo.

In a market that is starting to become saturated with blues-based rock, like most genres you will get the albums that just don’t float your boat. This is especially true if they stick to a formulaic approach and don’t really have the songs. Good knows there are enough blues guitarists out there who think they can sing but just really end up sounding like guitarists trying to sing! However, Matt is definitely not one of these as he has a great voice, although I would like to have heard more of the edgy side of the vocals demonstrated on ‘Set Me Free‘. However, what we have here a some finely crafted songs, great production and mix that all adds up to a killer debut album. I doff my blues cap to you sir – now when do I get to sing one of these babies with ya?