REVIEW: Blues Pills – Lady In Gold

This review was originally written for GetYourRockOut.co.uk

Two Swedes, an American, and a Frenchman go into a recording studio. What results is far from a joke, but rather a sterling piece of soulful, blues rock psychadelia. The Sweden based foursome have taken the 60s voodoo template of their 2014 debut and added lashings of soul and gospel elements to great effect.

This embellishment of the Blues Pills sound is evident right from the start, the title track opening with marching piano to the foreground and vocalist Elin Larsson’s soulful banshee soaring over the top. The gospel style backing vocals adorning the track’s crescendo complete the evolution from blues rock foreplay to psychedelic soul climax.

And the soulful notes keep coming, Little Boy Preacher bringing to mind flares and platform shoes rather than black lights and tie-dye shirts, and I Felt A Change is a straight up soul ballade, the simple electric piano really showcasing the emotion of Larsson’s voice.

Not that the band have been castrated. Dorian Sorriaux’s guitar may be less prevalent this time around, but it’s subtlety makes it all the more impactful when it does take centre stage. The lysergic riff of Burned Out’s atmospheric blues, coupled with the subtle organ, creating a remarkably transcendent atmosphere. Offset by a tremendous shuffle, and with Larsson taking it to church in the finale, it serves as a tremendous highlight only three tracks in.

Elsewhere there’s more groove in the form of Bad Talkers and more blues powerhouses in the shape of You Gotta Try and Won’t Go Back, the former with subtle similarities to former tour partners Rival Sons. Tony Joe White’s Elements and Things gets the Blues Pills treatment to round things out. Sorriaux’s crowning moment of the album, with the wah pedal being worked to the bone, his Peter Green-esque phrasing and economic note selection has him knocking on the door to be included alongside Joe Bonamassa and Scott Holiday in this generation’s guitar heroes.

The work ethic embodied by Blues Pills’ relentless touring in the wake of their debut has clearly paid dividends when it came to their sophomore studio effort. There’s a greater variety in material than can be found on that freshman release, though it is very much more evolution than revolution. Some further experimentation and the taking of a few greater risks could’ve pushed the needle from fantastic to phenomenal, but on this trajectory the band are well on their way.

Tracklisting:

Lady In Gold
Little Boy Preacher
Burned Out
I Felt A Change
Gone So Long
Bad Talkers
You Gotta Try
Won’t Go Back
Rejection
Elements And Things

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