Marshall Records [Release Date 19.06.20]
For Norfolk classic rockers Bad Touch, a fourth album in five years, not to mention incessant touring, is testament to their hard work. It deserves to pay off, being their most accomplished to date.
They still wear their influences on their sleeves and Black Crowes comparisons are never far away including on bold opener ‘Come A Little Closer’, with a brilliant slide guitar solo from Rob Glendinning, while ‘I Get High’ is catchy with its ‘who-oahs’ on the chorus.
However the music is constructed on a much broader canvas than before, in particular subtle but effective contributions from guest keyboardist and blues rock wizard Bob Fridzema. After the slight misstep of the rough and ready production of 2018’s ‘Shake A Leg’, the resulting sound is much richer and more rounded.
On ‘Let Go’ his piano is prominent and the song has a warm, bluesy, soulfulness, not unlike one of the year’s other stand outs, Robert Jon and the Wreck. They take their seventies influences even further with a possibly unnecessary cover of ‘I’ve Got The Music In Me’.
Stevie Westwood’s gruff vocals still give the music a gritty, rough-edged character notably on ‘Strut’, which has a rather unconventional song structure, until everything is pulled together in a closing passage reminiscent of ‘Hard To Handle’.
The title track stands out with a catchy riff and a big, anthemic chorus, although one which borrows somewhat from ‘Skyman’ from the last album, exemplifying one slight reservation that some of their songs over the years are a tad indistinguishable from one other.
It was interesting to read in the press pack how their rural upbringing gives them a greater affinity for the classic sounds of the American south. Feel is all important for this rootsy type of music and Rob and second guitarist Daniel ‘Seeks’ Seekings in particular have it in spades; ‘Can You Save Me’ boasts an elegant solo from the former and together with ‘Read All About It’ has the sparse riffs and sense of space of a Free or latterly Cry Of Love.
‘See You Again’ is the latest in a number of their songs over the years inspired by the rustic stylings of Ronnie Lane both with the Faces and Slim Chance, and its introspective mournfulness is enhanced by the use of piano and even strings.
On the other hand ‘Too Much Of A Good Thing’ is another of the most instant songs they have yet written, featuring female backing vocals and a very Black Crowes opening with more slide guitar giving way to a chorus that calls to mind Thunder or the Quireboys ,and the hint of a twin lead solo.
Yet the album closes with a couple of more adventurous numbers in ‘Sun And The Moon’, complete with keyboard solo, and ‘Something About Your Kiss’, building in haunting style from an extended acoustic guitar intro.
They sum up how, through adding superior production and a more rounded sound to their already established strengths, Bad Touch have created easily their best work to date which could act as a springboard for them to step up into the big league. **** 1/4
Review by Andy Nathan
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