Jules Carter Trio [Release date 16.06.14]
The Jules Carter Trio’s ‘Done Misbehaving’ is a frustrating album. The funky grooves, intricate guitar playing and tight band interplay from guitarist Jules, bassist Fingerz Carty and drummer Paul White is hampered by some lame lyrics and a fluctuating vocal style that struggles to bring presence to the songs.
It’s an album of sketched love and relationship songs, while ‘Ten Out Of Ten’ and ‘Bedroom Eyes’ struggle to rise above bedsit angst. And yet it’s not an album totally devoid of merit, because when Jules lets fly with some articulate solos, he broaches the subtly of Mark Knopfler (on ‘Ten Out Ten’) and Larry Carlton on the lyrically awful, but musically excellent ‘Blondie’.
On ‘Same Day Born’, a lightweight arrangement is suddenly given unexpected substance by an intricately woven solo, before it returns to its funky foundations. He’s far more impressive – if not a shade overly ambitious with his vocal – on the shimmering blues and cool dynamics of ‘Since You Went Away’, which again benefits from a fine tension breaking solo.
The best moment comes in tandem with Steely Dan’s Elliott Randall on the album’s anchor track, the suitably titled ‘Purdie’s Shuffle’. The ode to the great funky groove drummer Bernard Purdie, finds Jules and Elliott intertwined in extended conversational guitar lines, as an edgy tone meets delicate intricacy over a groove worthy of the song title.
Jules’s lyrics are notably better on the ironic ‘27 Club’, as he outlines the musically departed members of the club, starting with Robert Johnson and finishing with Amy Winehouse. There’s Brian Jones, Jim Morrison, Kurt Kobain, Hendrix, and Joplin, as well as the lesser mourned Pete Ham (Badfinger) and Les Harvey (Stone The Crows): ‘Les Harvey had a bad break, a faulty lead sealed his fate, He died on stage or so the stories tell.’
Sadly, the rest of the album is a succession of mundane confessional songs which he bravely tries to rescue with some impressive guitar work and a tightly wrapped rhythm section.
The closing ‘Ma Belle’ sounds like a transcribed jazz piece with eclectic lyrics: ‘Asked me my intentions, she thought in four dimensions.’
At its best, ‘Done Misbehaving’ explores some tidy grooves, cool solos and occasional lyrical humour, but it tries too hard to be arty and as a result over extends Jules’s vocal and song writing abilities.
He’s a decent guitarist who is happy to explore a funky feel with jazzy inflections and on that basis alone there’s a case to be made for exploring simpler and fatter grooves and ditching some of the specious stories.
It’s an album that shows plenty of promise but lacks consistency to make it truly essential. ***
Review by Pete Feenstra
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Pete Feenstra celebrated his 300th show in October 2019. Pete heads up a five-hour blues rock marathon when “Tuesday is Bluesday” from 19:00 GMT. Listen out also for his interview-based Feature show on Sundays (20:00 GMT)
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