Album review: NO SINNER – Boo Hoo Hoo

No Sinner - Boo Hoo Hoo

Provogue [Release date 14.01.14]

‘Boo Hoo Hoo’ is an impressive debut album from Canadian rock-blues band No Sinner. The Vancouver based quartet readily venture beyond their core genres to explore rock, blues, soul, jazz, garage rock and jam band sensibilities, on an album that is a work in progress.

In a few years time it will probably be remembered for the way it honed their style, but in the meantime ‘Boo Hoo Hoo’ bursts with ideas and sparkling playing, while the catchy hook of the title track suggests they have what it takes to break out commercially.

No Sinner, who take their name from Colleen Rennison’s inverted surname, originally issued ‘Boo Hoo Hoo’ as an EP, but dropped one track and added three new ones, to reflect the evolution of a hardworking band

The two new self penned tracks – the guitar laden ‘Devil On My Back’ and the expansive ‘September Moon’ – are arguably their best songs, while a cover of Cannonball Adderley’s ‘Work Song’ gives Colleen an opportunity to stretch out on a Nina Simone arrangement that is well suited to her voice.

Her powerful range has already brought her premature comparisons with Janis Joplin, but there are enough spirited moments here to show she’s capable of rising to the demands of any song. The ballsy ballad ‘If Anything’ – with its Janis style line: ‘It’s a dirty business loving me,  it’s going to be hard sometimes, but you best believe, if I ain’t got nothing but a dime, I’ll still make sure we’ll have a real good time’ – is a good example of how she shapes a song to her own ends. Then there’s the slow fuse gospel feel of ‘Rise Up’ on which she unhurriedly phrases and conjoins clear diction with real feel.

Colleen confidently finds her range on an array of material routed in rock/blues, gospel and pop, that lends itself to a radio friendly crossover feel and cleverly incorporates the band’s signature style into the arrangements.

‘Boo Hoo Hoo’ also delivers several potential singles, from the retro sounding title track with its catchy hook, baritone sax fills and unexpected mellow breakdown, to Eric Campbell’s smouldering fuzz toned ‘Love Is A Madness’.  He also adds some Kossoff  style riffs on the other stand out track ‘Devil On My Back’, which subtly builds by degrees.

From the ‘shake your booty’ album cover to the sensual soft focus videos and sultry vocals, No Sinner appears to be the personification of Colleen Rennison, but the structure and performance of the songs suggests otherwise.  It’s an album solidly built on band foundations and music that cleverly evokes the lyrics, while Colleen’s vocal sells the sizzle.

All the elements subtly coalesce on bluesy ballad ‘That’d Be The Day’, on which the band is an object lesson in restraint, as Colleen emotively delivers the line: Softly slowly, all things holy, if I can make you stay, that’d be the day’.

‘Boo Hoo Hoo’ is worth checking out. It’s everything you would expect from a fiery, hard working live band, who have the material to repay their label’s wise investment strategy in the future.  ****

Review by Pete Feenstra

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