Reviews Zone

Austin Gold: Before Dark Clouds (Jigsaw) 13th October 2017

 


5 Stars (5 / 5)

 

 

What have we here? A ballsy, in your face rock album with a bluesy core, that packs a bumper punch from the off. A superb singer, great guitarist, rock solid band and some excellent material.

Their debut album has really got it going on; with big nods to the likes of Free, Bad Company, Paul Rodgers, Paul Kossoff, Led Zeppelin and a smattering of David Gilmour and Floyd for good measure.

Oh, by the way; they are from Peterborough in the UK, and by the glorious noise they make , the major label quality of the material and the top notch production, after the first few tracks on first listen, I was convinced this would be a US outfit. Not so. One of ours…

The five-piece with a name that sounds like a veteran Soho tailor’s shop, formed in the summer of 2103 and dropped a five-track EP in 2014, recently signed to UK label Jigsaw, and recorded their album to analogue tape in Leeds. They give us 10 original songs penned by the full line-up of David James Smith (vocals & guitars), Jack Cable (guitars), Lee Churchill (bass), Russell Hill (Hammond and keyboards) and Chris Ogden (drums).

The songwriting is very, very, very good. All these tracks sit nicely next to each other and deliver a totally even listen. No dips in standard or strength of the material; it all works and offers up a vastly impressive debut release. Far from dark clouds; I see a very bright future for these chaps.

No idea how I do not know of this band already. They seem to be a best kept secret, but with this mighty offering, not for much longer. There’s light and shade between the heavier rockier stuff and the laid back, slower numbers. All of equal consistency in holding the attention throughout the whole song.

In David James Smith they happen to have one of the best rock voices from the UK in several decades. If he and this band had been doing their thing back in the 1970s alongside the bands they obviously admire and are inspired by, we’d be talking of legendary status today, no doubt. That said; this is a unit, not a solo singer and a backing band. Heaps of chemistry here.

It might be unashamedly retro and old school blues-rock in the main, but with the likes of the Foo Fighters doing what they do in 2017, this lot have a fair chance to break through into the mainstream as their career progresses, as they develop and as their profile builds. The songs are the key.

More often than not, this kind of music gets let down badly by an inferior singer, whose vocal strength does not match the power of the music. Not so this time. Far from it. It’s a  pleasure to hear this guy belting ‘em out and then pulling right back for the sweet, more laid back stuff and showing his control too. They make a great big, loud and bloody lovely sound and it is an easy ask to picture this outfit up there on an arena stage from Newcastle to New York, Bournemouth to Berlin. Really.

Standout cuts include “All The way Down”, a stunning rock ballad, which had it been written and pitched to Whitesnake and Aerosmith back in their heyday, may well have been a global smash hit. Cracking piece of songwriting from the five guys in the band and a killer vocal. Lovely twin guitar work from Smith & Cable too.

“See The Light” features some sizzling lead guitar in real Kossoff flavour, on a Free style cut. Soaring Gilmour-esque guitar on an epic track, “Home Ain’t Home” which is not too far away from Floyd.

Producer Andy Hawkins deserves props for his values; in allowing the singer and the band to serve the songs, and not the other way round. Unfussy, solid, high class production and the album benefits greatly from his simple approach.  Andy adds additional guitars, keyboards and percussion to the record.

There’s a clutch of tracks here I’d be pitching to the BBC Radio 2 playlisting suits, which stand a good shot for mainstream C or B listing, to my ears. One of the most accomplished and complete debut albums from a UK band in many a long time.

Watch out King King; major league competition coming for your crown from these overnight sensations!

By Simon Redley

 

 

 


1 Stars (1 / 5) ‘Dull Zone’
2 Stars (2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
3 Stars (3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
4 Stars (4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
5 Stars (5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’

 

 

 

 

 

 

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