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Issue 1094

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Review

The Milk: Cages (Wah Wah 45s)

The Milk: Cages (Wah Wah 45s) @bluesandsoul.com

10

9.2

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UK release date 17.01.2020

3 studio albums down and deftly in sync foursome, Mitch Ayling (drums), Luke Ayling (bass), Dan Le Gresley (guitar) and Ricky Nunn (piano/vocals) once again showcase their considerable talents while delivering their own unique brand of moreish, deep-filled, rhythm-driven soul/alt-soul. Previous long players "Tales From the Teams Delta" in 2012 and 2017's "Favourite Worry" scored highly with both critics and music fans alike. I'm pleased to say, new album "Cages" looks set to continue that rich vein of form.

It's great to see these exceptional Essex soul dons haven't compromised or deviated from their mission to give their steadily growing fan base exactly what they want, while at the same time ignoring the usual communality pitfalls. Those who know The Milk, KNOW The Milk. And boy are they lucky! The irony of the album's title, going by the lyrics, is more a social comment for the restrictive world we live in today and isn't lost on this reviewer because when you listen to any The Milk release, the first thing you notice - OK, 2nd thing, after admiring the on-point vocals of keys playing frontman Ricky Nunn - is the free nature of this band's delivery, which gives them their genre-expanding authentic sound.

Breaking down "Cages", it's fair to say, this album has plenty of highs and a few surprises up its sleeve. None more so than meat and 2 veg/kitchen sink opener "Broken Skys", which hits the ground running from the first note, while in turn setting the bar on the whole proceedings at a lofty height. This track's backing reminds, funnily enough, of a slowed Chemical Brothers "Block Rockin' Beats" or even Ocean Colour Scene's "River Boat Song". But it's the instantly recognisable tones of Nunn's defiantly gritty vocal which ups the game repeatedly on this release.

Other musts include initial single release "Colours", which slows proceedings down instantly after the 0-60 in 2 seconds opener, like throwing a stinger in front of a speeding car, there's no gradual slowing down, just time to hold your breath and dive into a beautifully crafted Donald Fagan at his best sounding anthem. That same 24 carat luxurious soul sound can also be found on “Time Don't Cost Enough" and understated “Great Sorrow", which oozes quality from start to finish with light guitar framing a summer sounding vocal, which in turn adds yet more depth to this release.

Stylish "Wild Chained Man" lays the band's intentions bare while inviting the listener on a journey of discovery - killer lead guitar from Gresley grabs this track by the scruff while Nunn's vocal despair resonates throughout, as it does on many tracks.

As you have probably deduced, this is far from a standard soul album, as slow-burner "Knock Me Out For Ten" proves. This tune steers the band from soul into more blues type waters, it's also a track which is perfectly captained by Nunn's undeniable soul angst - image Ocean Colour Scene crossed with a Hucknall/Redding gruff, soul-filled vocal, performing at full tilt throughout. This album is high octane soul at it's best! In short, if you want a band with authentic soul coursing through its veins and with genuine edge, then look no further than The Milk.

The single “Colours” is out now and album “Cages” is out Jan 17 on Wah Wah 45s
Words LEE TYLER

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