June 9, 2023

Ivy Gold is a multi-national rock band formed in 2020 by German guitarist Sebastien Eder, formerly of hard rock band Avalon, with beauteous Austrian lyricist and singer Manou. Having recruited bassist Kevin Moore from New York, drummer Tal Bergman from the US West Coast and keyboardist Anders Olinder from the UK, they released their debut album Six Dusty Winds in 2021, followed by Live At The Jovel, recorded in Germany, the following year – we are now treated to their third offering, this year’s Broken Silence. Although the album is undoubtedly rock, bordering on the heavy at times, Manou’s voice is deep and smooth, which gives each of the numbers a subtlety that would probably be missing if she inhabited the more usual soprano range. Nevertheless, it’s Eder’s guitar-playing that carries away the honours in my book – he’s not a shredder to be sure, but a solid rhythm player and a very imaginative and thoughtful soloist, adding an extra dimension to every number.

Ivy Gold frontwoman Manou

The set opens with the title song, also probably the most memorably hooky song on the album, a thumping slow blues-rock number with guitar arpeggio backing. At four minutes, there is a sudden wash of massed backing vocals, with Olinder’s Hammond creeping in underneath; a beautifully constructed piece.

No Ordinary Woman starts off almost jazzy, with a horn section (which I think is actually keyboard-based), and some nice, funky interjections. Moore’s bass comes to the fore in House Of Cards, reminiscent of classic Robin Trower, with a complex, proggy section at 2½ minutes. Eder provides a nice guitar solo, as he does in most of the tracks; it seems to me that Manou’s voice works less well on this kind of number though, as she drops to a kind of growl early in the song; her naturally smooth pipes work better on the later, more melodic passages.

I Am That I Am veers into the symphonic arena a little, which is arguably where they should be all along; with its springy guitar riffage and massed backing vocals, this is a highlight of the set, the best song so far by some margin. Nevertheless, drummer Bergman has a chance to shine with some rapid, proggy drumming on Six Times Gone, which also features some of the rockiest guitar work of the set, building to a rapid-fire, tight ending – Bergman’s drumming draws the ear several times as the album progresses.

Sacred Heart drops back into slow, bluesy rock, this time employing sweet and clear guitar tones rather than the overdriven, spiky tone on most of the songs; this adds another texture to the set, with the song playing out on massively reverbed, almost chanted vocals.

Drifting starts with a steam locomotive panning in slowly from the left, over deep, fuzzy wah-pedal guitar chords. A sparse backing periodically bursts into an almost manically fast drum pattern, then drifts back down again, and the song plays out on that deep wah intro riff. There is more interesting drumming on Broken Wings Of Hope, another slow rock number with toms rotating around the stereo pan.

I have to say, although she has a dramatic, chocolatey-smooth voice, I’m not totally convinced by Manou’s vocal technique – she has a tendency to drift off-key to my ear, especially in the more improvisational passages, which starts to become wearing after a while. By her own admission, she was a hobbyist singer until relatively recently, and I’m confident this loophole will tighten up as time goes on; I hope so, because this band has a lot of potential and I would like to see them succeed.

A bonus live version of Clapton’s Old Love is included after all the studio tracks, which works well, as the mix and production are pretty well up to the standard of the rest of the album, and the massed backing vocals still appear. Olinder stumps up a nice, moody Hammond solo too. In a curious, but not unwelcome, ending to the album, this track is followed by a 24-second reprise of the opening song, in which Manou simply sings the words ‘Broken Silence’ over a brief guitar arpeggio, bringing the whole set up to about 48 minutes. Judging by their output so far, we shouldn’t have too long to wait until their next set hits the streets – and I will be there waiting.

Broken Silence by Ivy Gold is now available via Golden Ivy Records