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Issue 1088

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Review

Bluesfreak: New Roots (Bluesfreak Music)

Bluesfreak CD New Roots

8

6.3

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UK release date 26.03.2012

"A very British, very modern slant on my blues influences.â So says UK musician Paul Corry, aka Bluesfreak, about his current CD, âNew Roots.â It features rock legend Roy Wood on one track he played on and produced. Paul is predominantly a session sax player and a member of Royâs band. He was in Jamiroquaiâs horn section, but he can play stacks of different instruments, writes his own stuff, sings and produces. I have heard if you shove a brush up his rear end, he can sweep the floor too! Neat trick.

Londoner Paul, has played with a host of stars, including Corrinne Bailey Rae, Bobby Parker, Sugar Ray Norcia, Angela Brown, Otis Grand, Tony Christie, Peter Grant, and even with Quo at the 02 Arena. He co-wrote Michael Roachâs album and played on it.
Internet feedback from fans who have bought his album on download is all positive. Punters say it is âHip hop beats & old school blues mixed with wicked lyrics & some political commentary that hits the nail right on the head.â Another fan says: âIf you want to hear truly MODERN blues then check this out. Fat beats, great lyrics, mature musicianship - just a great album.â

Well, here are my thoughts, track by track: First of all, I feel the vocal is on a kind of Arctic Monkeys/Mike âThe Streetsâ Skinner tip across the whole album. âAlright Againâ opens things, with a sparse approach â drum machine, voice, guitar, some nice bluesy licks and a nice solo. A kind of Lilly Allen attitude vocal style. The production of this track and of all but one of them, is very understated. A lot like a writerâs demo, than a fully produced album. But I think he meant it to sound that way. The comparison of Roy Woodâs âproducedâ track to the others, is vivid though.

âDonât Worry Baby,â has light and shade with acoustic guitar, an OK song. âMake It Hard,â (not the P Diddy/Mary J Blige tune,) is a strong song and I liked it a lot. Seasick Steve guitar territory. Nice candidate for a hip remix, this one. âCredit Crunch,â has a lovely guitar sound, vocal, guitar and programmed drums. Tasty solo.
âBlood and Oilâ is a tad pitchy on the vox. Nice songwriting craft here. Guitar sounds cool. Reverb wafts in on the vocal later in the track, and thickens it up. Track six is the Roy Wood work, a cover of âDonât Think Twice.â Some warm âoooohsâ in the backing vocals, drums sound âreal,â as compared to the programmed stuff on the rest of the CD. Guitar is smashing. Strings add value, and the vocal seems deliberately pulled back and subdued, which works well. This one has lost its rawness, and is definitely "produced.â Quite compressed.

Paul wanted the whole project to focus on songs and not âsolos.â If he includes production, this contradicts that for me. Not a criticism, just an observation. Considering, he has called upon the talents of one of the best and perhaps most under-rated producers this country has ever âproduced.â Back to the track; it could be a Travelling Wilburys cut, pleasing on the old lug holes. "How Does She Do It," is one of the stronger songs, where the stripped down arrangement and use of just voice, bottle-neck acoustic slide and drum machine works well. Delicious and relaxed "sittin' on the back porch with my geetar and my moonshine, mindin' my own business," approach to the thing. Hypnotic vocal, rather like a couple more of the stronger and more commercial tunes here. Puts it in the ballpark of the wonderful Alabama 3. The horrible and puny drum machine, irritates the hell out of me though, which Paul will probably be pleased about, as I suspect he has the devil in him somewhat and has set out to provoke. It worked! Smash that bleedin' drum machine now. The Roger Whittaker impression, I can live with, on the whistle. (A stompbox and hot rods would work well on this stuff, instead of the lucky bag drum machine from 1972.)

Track eight is: âBad Day," a rootsy dobro/slide heavy instrumental a la Ry Cooder movie soundtrack vibe. It is very nice. âHistory Hates Youâ has a Dalek type distortion effect on the voice, a political rant/mantra. Nice sax, but not one for me. Out of place on a blues album.

âNew Orleansâ stays with the effects and playing with the plug-ins, to the detriment of the music. âMurder The Bluesâ has a nice feel, some lovely guitar parts, a strong message about moving the blues on or it dies. Probably the most commercial cut on the album. âI Wonderâ has a Buddy Guy/Peter Green feel to it, and some very fine guitar. It is not that far removed from John Lee Hookerâs work. âThe Outcast,â like many on here would make better full band tracks than a one man band, with these stripped down production values.

âTicket To Yesterdayâ has a pitchy vocal, but a cool guitar solo. âWorried Mindâ is an acoustic track. The closer âRosie-Kate,â is probably the weakest song of the bunch. I do think 16 tracks is too long, and he could have cut at least four and gained, not lost.
Paul is an accomplished and classy guitarist with his own style. He is a fine sax player, for sure. Clever boy; having played everything, written it, produced it and swept that studio floor until gleaming, with precariously placed brush. Ouch!

The album is a self-confessed indulgent project to prove a point, which clearly means a lot to Paul. It will be a musical Marmite moment for most people - they will either love it or loathe it. For me, I think the material is inconsistent, the vocals could be better and I prefer songs to be paid the respect of decent production like the Woody track, than selling something that sounds only half finished.

But it is all down to personal taste when all is said and done, and I am still quite happy to be patting Paul on the back in print, for a job well done, if the thing turned out how HE wanted it to. That is all that really matters in the end.
Words SIMON REDLEY

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