"The Language Of Curiosity? Try The Musical Language Of Crossover Blues Appeal. It’s also an album that deserves to turn those Blues Award nominations into Blues Award wins!" | Ross Muir, FabricationsHQ
Blues award nominees the Starlite Campbell Band, based around husband and wife duo Suzy Starlite (bass guitars, vocals) and Simon Campbell (vocals, guitars) made quite the impact in 2017 with debut album Blueberry Pie.
(The late 60s/ early 70s British rock & blues inspired album was a European Blues Award nominated, critically acclaimed release).
Four years on comes The Language of Curiosity, which takes its lead from Blueberry Pie but adds a few more sprinkles and flavours to present an even tastier delight.
(The album again features the talents of drummer Steve Gibson and Hammond B3 & keyboardist Jonny Henderson, with appearances from pianist & organist Gabriele Del Vecchio and castanet player Maria Saalfeld Reis).
Nor does it hurt that Suzy Starlite & Simon Campbell are multi-instrumentalists (you’ll also hear a Philips Philicorder, mellotron, Moog Minitaur, theremin & E1-M guitar in the mix) and very much of the old-school.
(The album was primarily recorded on their 48 channel analog mixing console along with vintage gear such as an original 1970s Echoplex tape echo machine, valve amplifiers and vintage microphones).
Guitar-led melodic blues rock opener 'Distant Land' is a case in audio point; it sounds like it could have been recorded in the early 70s but musically carries a very contemporary groove and swagger (and topical lyrical theme relating to the global refugee crisis).
'Gaslight,' on the other rock and roll hand, is decidedly Stones-y with a side of Faces; slide guitar and Wurlitzer electric piano share space on a sharp-edged song about selling lies and manipulation for your own, non-factual ends ("You’re a gangster talking glory, a front-page headline story").
The title track, featuring Suzy Starlite and Simon Campbell in perfect vocal harmony, manages to encompass both 60s pop and beat-pop Blondie.
The result is the most interesting song on the album, with dream-pop stylings and equally dreamy lyricism ("Hugged a stranger in a neon-lit café, hooked a ride with a billionaire cowboy").
The lyrical language of curiosity, indeed.
The melodically charming pop-blues of 'Bad Sign' is another with dreamier qualities, here within a Middle 8 that features a Suzy Starlite vocal and Spanish guitar from Simon Campbell (a nod here also to Gabriele Del Vecchio on upright piano).
'Take Time To Grow Old' is a delightful Beatles meets melodic blues number that lyrically reflects and advises on the song’s title before Simon Campbell’s slightly fuzzed and nicely weighted guitar solo takes centre stage.
Campbell's guitar then gives way to a short but poignant piano outro.
Simon Campbell then gets his full fuzz on for the rockin’ 'Said So.'
Leading with a riff and rhythm that doesn’t so much nod as deeply bow to the Smokey Robinson penned classic 'Get Ready,' 'Said So' then kicks in to a bass driven, psychedelic guitar adorned instrumental section before it returns to its opening riffology.
Suzy Starlite, on her Fylde acoustic bass, takes lead vocal (and her own, beautifully blended harmonies) on another dreamy outing, the slow and rhythmic 'It Ain't Right.'
'Stone Cold Crazy' then returns to the early 70s rock and bluesy, Free-style roll the Starlite Campbell Band do so well.
The starker 'Lay It Out On Me,' featuring an exposed, soul-baring vocal from Simon Campbell atop piano and plaintive, Peter Green-esque guitar remarks, provides eerie slow blues contrast before the up-tempo, soul groove rhythm of 'Ride On Cowboy' (Suzy Starlite lyrically commentating on casual sex in the 2020s – "It don’t mean a thing, and it don’t cost a thing") closes out the album.
The Language Of Curiosity? Try The Musical Language Of Crossover Blues Appeal.
It’s also an album that deserves to turn those Blues Award nominations into Blues Award wins.
Ross Muir, FabricationsHQ