December 3, 2019

Surreptitious (or not!) replaying of classic rock / blues-rock greats from the late 60s and early 70s such as Cream and Free is wonderful enough. But when you stumble across talented young(ish!) musicians creating and playing new stuff in the same vein with the same levels of energy, honesty and passion as said Household Gods, life is good!

Heavy Feather are a talented quartet from Sweden who, after many years of doing their own thing have decided to come together and create something really quite special. The members have played with various Scandinavian  bands and artists as Siena Root, the Lisa Lystam Family Band, Diamond Dogs, Stacie Collins and Mårran; so they’ve paid their dues, learned their lines, and crafted their chosen skills to form a superbly tight unit that sounds joined at the collective hip, so naturally does the music flow. It’s quite heavy blues-rock / roots rock / retro rock….or just ROCK… that sounds completely fresh and organic whilst being rooted in 50 years of the best.

I don’t know whether it is a Scandanavian thing, given the recent success and adulation handed to Blues Pills, because there is more than a passing resemblance to those guys, not just in supremely talented female lead singers but in a shared style of bluesy, rootsy music, mixing raw, airy riffs with delicate picking and ace licks, great rhythms and percussion, and also with a raw but crisp, timeless, very live sound. The same goes for lots of Dutch bands – it must be something in the water, or in the air (water again!)

So – to the debut album “Débris & Rubble”. It’s a good selection of tracks, they’re clearly very comfortable in their musical shells, but despite their “hallmark” sound there’s so much variety from one song to the next. The album kicks off with a short piece, called “Introduction” (natch), featuring classic Cream-like riffing and what I can only describe as a Viking-like “calling-on” mantra! Next up is “Where Did We Go”, featuring more great riffs, vintage cowbell rhythms before singer Lisa’s Lystam powerful vocals take over. Comparisons with Blues Pills singer Elin Larsson will be inevitable, they both have such command of their vocal chords ranging from rabble-rousing, husky, smoothly soft, vocal cord–ripping power, don’t worry about it, just appreciate and enjoy!

“Waited All My Life” is poignant, soulful, with a glorious guitar solo and a superbly tight-knit and again timeless band performance. This is followed by “Dreams”, just a classic bluesy ballad but with great guitar work, such strong vocals and the band showing a classy ability to move naturally and seamlessly through the gears. “Higher” is a short track, it had me thinking of Blind Faith – you could imagine Ginger on the skins, Eric on great slide guitar, Rick Grech on bass and Stevie W on vocals ,all performing this – and that’s my point, these four musicians are way up there with the best!

“Tell Me Your Tale” then changes tempo completely, a slow bluesy ballad but such a strong simple style that then builds with a quite marvellous slide guitar solo, all staying slow but getting more and more powerful. The band does this so well, the other three members being Matte Gustavsson, Morgan Korsmoe and Ola Göransson. Frustratingly I’ve not been able to track down who plays what but all three are superbly talented and not overshadowed by the wonderful vocals – show your hands for the sound engineer , guys, it’s a really clean, balanced mix!

“Long Ride” is another southern-rocker, starts slow but builds with an anthemic chorus, this band really lets their songs grow organically as they play. I cant wait to see them come across to the UK, I can only imagine they’re amazing live! “I Spend My Money Wrong” has some classic blues “duet” between singer/harmonica and guitar within a traditional blues riff, followed by “Hey There Mama” which shows Lisa matching Blues Pills for charismatic lead singing, gentle and show-stopping by turns, and another great piece of “wah-wah” guitar work – I must track this guy down!   

The two tracks closing the album are different again, “Please Don’t Leave” has softer singing overlaying more Cream-like (or perhaps Peter Green from early Fleetwood Mac?) lead guitar work, with a mesmeric, dreamy, ending which is quite psychedelic.  “Whispering Things” is another slow blues ballad, absolutely timeless, that reminds me of Heart, or acoustic Neil Young . Not quite downbeat, more a “closing of the day” feel that leaves you so satisfied with this musical treat.

For a first collective album, this is a thing of rare, soulful and composed beauty, you can tell they loved creating it, and I bet seeing it performed live is something else. Get over here NOW, please!!