Album review: KRIS BARRAS – Light It Up

Kris Barras - Light It Up

Provogue Records [Release date 13.09.19]

Kris Barras is a contemporary rock-blues hero for the new generation. He’s got the chops, the back story, a booming voice, an eye for a good melody and a catchy chorus, topped by some coruscating solos.

There’s virtually no slack on this album, and whether he immerses himself in a retro 80’s big hair band sound of ‘Broken Teeth’, the big wall of sound of ‘Bullet’ and ’6AM’, or the commercial impulse of ‘Vegas Son’ – the chorus of which could be Kenny Wayne Shepherd  – Kris Barras has so many options in his locker, his versatility enables him to approach different facets of rock with his credibility wholly totally intact.

Let’s be honest the K in his name stands for Kick ass!  He lays things on the line on the opening track, ‘What You Get’, predicated on the explanatory line: “What You See Is What You Get.”

And it’s true, as Barras has no hidden agendas, no dead space and no ghosts in his locker. He’s got the hunger, the fire and the licks and he wails to the heavens as he rocks his ass off.

It’s often said that the flow of the songs is both the glue and the skeleton of an album.  And it’s a lesson well learnt by Barras, as he sandwiches the enveloping radio friendly hook and imperious solo of the outstanding ‘Vegas Son’ between the muscular stomp of ‘Broken Teeth’ and the chanted hook of ‘Ignite (Light It Up)’.

If ‘Vegas Son’ is the defining anthem that will make him a major contender in the new decade,  then ‘What A Way To Go’ runs it a close second, being a slice of ebullient undulating rock with a another booming gospel infused chorus and a big solo.

He’s also unafraid to tackle an MOR ballad like ‘Rain’, on which his vocal perfectly nuances the metaphorical lyrics, while a subtle thinner guitar tone (which could almost be a keyboard) evokes the title of ‘Let The River Run’.

He continues to innovate deep into the set by fattening the sound again with Josiah J. Manning’s layered organ and some potent bv’s on ‘Not Fading’, before book-ending the album with the southern influenced ‘Pride Is Forever’.

Kris Barras is that rare thing, an artist who stamps his own DNA on an album full of different styles and influences. He’s a passionate performer, a thoughtful songwriter and a ripping guitarist and all the elements combine splendidly here on a top class album. ****

Review by Pete Feenstra

The Best of 2019

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