The Karma Effect / Promised Land, A Soul-Stirring Sophomore

This Friday sees the release of the highly anticipated sophomore album from fast-rising soulful blues rockers The Karma Effect and the successor to 2022’s eponymous debut. The initial ripples generated by their emergence onto the scene are now turning into sizeable waves.

The Karma Effect – Promised Land (Earache Records)

Release Date: 3 May 2024

Words: Sophie James

These waves are due in no small part to the increasing presence of The Karma Effect on the live circuit, both at roots venues and festivals, and the feedback/word of mouth that such appearances generate.  

MetalTalk were present to document their performances at a number of last summer’s festivals, as well as their shows at Islington and Wolverhampton, together with a more recent interview in the run-up to this release.

“We’re livin’ it up, and we won’t come down.”

Close vocal harmonies, a single kick of the drum, and we’re away with Livin’ It Up, which attacks in trademark Karma style. “They say we’re the lost generation, left to pick up the pieces of a broken dream.”

This opening verbal salvo summarises the spirit of those let down by their predecessors, but which will not prevent them from tackling life with anything but a resolute yet hedonistic approach.

When I mentioned ‘trademark’ above, there are so just many colourations in the arrangements, from Henry’s towering vocals through to the intricate guitar interplay, Seb’s kaleidoscopic keyboard textures, the synergy of the rhythm section and an abundance of fluid and dynamic emotive solos. 

Such is the consummate harmonious wall of sound produced, many of the subtle elements could only be truly identified and appreciated whilst enjoying through headphones.

A song befitting of its place as an album opener, lead single and serious contender to open an evening’s shenanigans.

The opening few bars of second single, See You Again, very briefly remind one of Guns N’ Terminators before it heads off in a different direction entirely.  

Imagine walking into a lowdown Honky-Tonk Bar where there is a vivacious jam involving members of the Stones, Aerosmith, and Quireboys together with a horn section playing their hearts out. That is the vibe this party tune evokes.

Good time rock ‘n’ roll, for sure.  

Wild Honey sees The Karma Effect get down and right funky with this rip-roaring foot shuffler. A straight down the line four minutes of sheer pleasure. 

“If I can’t have you I don’t want nobody else.”

All Night Long is a surefire party starter and has already been an essential inclusion in the live set way before this release. Commencing with a latter-day Acca Dacca groove, it evolves into a more multi-layered but no less accessible piece – the kind of anthem that will undoubtedly unify the band and audience.

Seb’s gentle piano introduces the huge country-tinged power ballad Still Falling For You. While many bands have a song like this in their armouries, it takes a truly superior vocal to elevate it to the ranks of the spectacular. 

Here, Henry wrings every last drop of emotion out of his voice.  How one would have loved to have been a fly on the wall in the studio when this was laid down.

“I’ll always remember us this way,” a perfect line before another emotion-drenched solo.

An arena anthem waiting in the wings.

“Truth will always cut you down to size”.

By means of contrast, do please check out the piano version, below. Seb’s utterly delightful runs provide a most melodious alternative to a guitar. 

The seductive “We’re gonna take you there” opens the titular and escapist Promised Land. Mk 1 Karma with its funky riff and flowing bass.  Another that has been aired live for the past 12 months or so and has become a firm favourite.

The opening bars of Be My Salvation commences like it was conceived deep down in the Southern States by one of those profuse renegade outfits. An imploring, dare I say, flag-waving anthem (I hesitate to say power ballad again), it’s similar to Still Falling but incremented a notch or two.

It makes a delightful change to hear a Bruce Hornsby style piano solo from Seb, with the guitars providing an almost symphonic background.

That’s the last of the more emotive tracks as we now hurtle full pelt towards the chequered flag.

As if Henry’s extraordinary vocal talents weren’t showcased sufficiently already, Come To Life possesses an ascending segment which is just the perfect fusion between impassioned vocals and sublime melody as it cues up another exquisite melodious solo. 

Good luck to anyone who, on learning the lyrics, attempts to accompany Henry at that point.

Track Nine, Nine Times [coincidence?] has a haunting intro that segues into what is probably the most assaultive riff of the collection and then advances into an abrasive funk-fuelled gallop. 

Foot to the floor all the way, it is the kinda number where one needs to maintain a close eye on the speedo if listening out on the open highway. 

One of my favourites, and I anticipate it will be a total blast on stage.

Nothing emphasises the optimistic nature of the whole package than closer Better Days. Sub-four minutes of the most uplifting groove allied to a frenetic percussive rhythm, which underlines the affirming message. Just the most impeccable composition to conclude the album and possibly the setlist.

Now take a deep breath and relax…….  

Promised Land is the sound of a band increasingly brimming with confidence and rejoicing in the sweet sonic tapestries weaved, which nourish the soul of the listener.

From adrenalised rockers to more reflective mellower pieces, this is a well-balanced album of sublime compositions, assembled immaculately and executed flawlessly.

With so many subtleties, not to mention depth in the arrangements, this is an album that you will find yourself returning to time and again.

Enjoy the ride.

The Karma Effect – Promised Land – will be released through Earache Records and is available to order here. Do you like free stuff? Then you can also download Promised Land’s singles released to date for free, plus a couple of select tracks from their self-titled debut.

Plus, the piano track of their big ballad Still Falling For You has been transcribed into sheet music, and you can download a collectable copy to print at home. Bring it along to a show and the boys will sign it, for sure!

The Karma Effect have an album launch event at Westerham Brewery TN16 1QP on Saturday 4 May. The night will feature a full album playthrough, meet and greet with signing session, special acoustic set, Q&A session and DJ set from Seb Emmins. 

There will even be a beer on tap named after the band. The limited tickets that remain are available from here.

Sleeve Notes

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