A mainstay of music for five decades or so, blues rock never goes out of fashion. Its working man approach and ability to catalogue the highs and lows in life give it universal appeal. Following in the footsteps of the greats, The Blue Lena bring their own take. Whilst not trying to reinvent the wheel, there is a lot to be said about how they approach things and bring a freshness that really elevates this new release.
The Blue Lena – Darkwood
Release Date: Out Now
Words: Paul Monkhouse
Soaked in the sounds of the South and the cream of ’60s and ’70s rock, the British septet have brought their years of experience into this mammoth opus, and it’s a thing of timeless wonder.
Part of the authenticity felt here is down to the stripped-back and live-sounding production mixed by Pete Newdeck, everything here brimming with life but also with just the right level of polish to exude class. From the opening of Last Chance Saloon onwards, there’s a vibrancy here that blends the buzz of their live shows with the slickness that comes from a level of musicianship born of many combined years in the business.
The album’s many hues run from the big and ballsy to the gentle and introspective, the vocals of Peter Yeomans and Fi Channon blending perfectly and the fretwork of Nick Singleton going from the raging to the subtle.
There’s a touch of Hendrix meets a funky Allman Brothers meets Lynyrd Skynyrd in the grooving southern rock of Sanctify, and the barrelling blues of The Wrong Side Of Midnight that features Matt Raynor’s keys at their heart are enough to lift spirits for a week.
With their more pensive side, both Nashville Song (It’s All In The Letter) and big ballad Sometimes show that less can be more. But if these are more subtle entries into their canon, the epic American gothic blues of Undertow brings enough drama and atmosphere to fill a library, crackling with Southern shadows and mist.
From the whip-smart rhythm section of Jon Claydon’s drums and Martin Raggett’s bass and the extra layers provided by Richie Yeates’s guitar and harmonies, The Blue Lena have really pushed themselves forward. This distillation of writing, performances and production has brought out something special.
An album to really sink your teeth into and absorb every last note, Darkwood is something that will grow and grow, its tendrils reaching out and never letting you go.