33 Records [Release date 01.06.15]
With 3 studio albums under their belt and a busy gig sheet, Zoe Schwarz & Blue Commotion have established themselves as a sophisticated blues band with their own unique selling point.
They are vibrant, original, adventurous and in Zoe Schwarz have a passionate singer who get inside the lyrics.
Almost the perfect time then for a live album and they don’t disappoint with the excellent ‘I’ll Be Your’s Tonight.’ It’s a step up for the band, as they add vim and vigour to a set that shows off every facet of their musical ability.
It’s an honest, straight from the wood session that captures those special moments when they connect with the crowd, as exemplified by guitarist Rob Koral’s solo and the band’s interplay on ‘I Believe In You’.
‘I’ll Be Your’s Tonight’ lights the fuse with a mix of strong, self penned songs and a judicious cover that highlights their musical versatility.
Zoe extends her range impressively on Billy Holiday’s ‘Fine & Mellow’, and she’s a cat on a hot tin roof on the R&B work out ‘Let Me Sing The Blues’, which features Si Genaro on wailing harp, a Hammond break and an intricate guitar solo. The horn arrangement of ‘Smile’ adds a soulful feel, while Zoe’s deliberate phrasing brings clarity of meaning.
Blue Commotion are at their best on ‘Angel of Mercy’, the kind of contemplative blues that makes them stand out from a hundred other blues bands. Zoe pristine diction and expressive phrasing makes the most of the song’s sweeping dynamics.
Paul Robinson’s tic-toc rhythm provides subtle velocity and the song is underpinned by Pete Whittaker’s enveloping Hammond. Whittaker also colours the album with instrumental flourishes, sundry fills and interwoven solos.
‘Liberated Woman’ skips along like a steam train and Zoe tackles the emotive ballad ‘I Believe In You’ with real gusto. She’s confident in the knowledge she’s surrounded by virtuoso players, as evidenced by the contrasting dreamy Hammond and sinuous guitar parts which give the song an additional lift.
The horn and Hammond driven ‘I’ll Do Anything’ features an impassioned vocal and builds to a big band finish, while the biblical ‘Beatitudes’ is the band’s jewel in the crown. Zoe explores every emotional and musical nuance on a show-stopping song with a climactic finish that draws a deserved roar from the crowd.
They round things off impressively with the call and response ‘Take Me Back’. The train-time arrangement features Rob’s edgy toned wah-wah, a funky mid-number groove and the kind perfunctory finish that can only be delivered by a live band at its best. ****
Review by Pete Feenstra
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