Manhaton Records [Release date 25.03.13]
The award winning King King’s second album isn’t so much a problematical second album as a honing of their style, a polishing of their craft and a confident step towards a signature style.
At the core of the material lies the nascent Alan Nimmo/Lindsay Coulson song-writing partnership which contributes six songs and 2 co-writes. ‘Standing In The Shadows’ is a successful attempt to distance King King from the rockier Nimmo Brothers, albeit the big drum sound of ‘One More Time Around’ is a song irrefutably joined at the hip of the Nimmo’s, and probably reflects Stevie Nimmo’s co-writing credit.
If you play King King’s first two albums back to back, you can trace the musical development at play, but it comes with a marked step towards the middle ground. There’s a shift from the previous emphasis on musically related elements to a more tightly focussed song based album. As a result the arrangements are allowed to breath and showcase Alan’s impressive vocal attack.
The album opens with the excellent ‘More Than I Can Take’, which has a musical urgency and catchy bv’s to match its lyrical edge. And over the course of a well played, well produced and smartly sequenced album, the band steers a steady course between their natural live intensity, a batch of strongly focussed songs and the commercial possibilities that several mid-tempo melodies offer them
Truth be told, if you’re looking for an album full of fiery passion and blazing solos you’ll have to dig a little deeper to find those stellar Alan Nimmo moments. This is a slow burning album that offers more with repeated plays, most notably on ‘Taken What’s Mine’, which smoulders and momentarily catches fire on the back of two brief ‘in and out’ solos from Alan.
‘A Long History Of Love’ is another highlight, being a well structured ballad with a cool sense of dynamics. Bennett Holland adds subtle organ parts and the meandering slow build benefits from an insistent hook that leads us towards Alan defining solo.
There are two covers on the album, with Frankie Miller’s piano led ‘Jealousy’ being well suited to King King’s occasional retro glance over the shoulder. Alan adds some well chosen unison guitars and a gritty vocal. Free’s ‘Heavy Load’ – also the title of that band’s biography – is another piano led, slow building piece, complete with a change of guitar tone and excellently phrased vocals from Nimmo.
It’s a gem of a blues-rock track and is a welcome contrast to the preceding lightweight pop of ‘Cant Keep From Trying’ and the mid tempo radio friendly MOR of ‘Coming Home (Rest Your Eyes)’
‘Standing In The Shadows’ has an inherent flow and is an eloquent record that is subtly shaped by a mix of rock, blues and ballads explored with variable tempo’s. Let Love In’ provides the kind of suitable end-piece, sing-along finish that brings a belated party feel to an otherwise tightly structured record. **** (4/5)
Review by Pete Feenstra
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