Gateway Music [Release date 26.05.15]
Danish band The Blues Overdrive explore deep grooves in a minimalist framework to emphasize the essential elements of a song, albeit they are better at the power of suggestion than actual resolution.
‘Clinch’ is an album of understated arrangements and nuanced grooves on which they narrowly fail to stamp their own imprint on familiar sounding blues fare. The upside is they reshape traditions of the past on a delightful album full of intricate interplay and thoughtful songs.
At their best they evoke J.J. Cale on the percolating groove of ‘Woman of Love’, complete with his trademark whispered vocals. And when they lean into the mean shuffle of ‘Three Time Lover’, they are joined by the crisp tone and conversational guitar of Duke Robillard, who also pops up on the swampy cover of John Nemeth’s ‘Daughter Of The Devil’. Robillard’s incise playing cuts a swathe through a deep groove that is ultimately let down by the clichéd lyrics.
However, ‘Clinch’ does break new ground with the spacious ‘Jealous’, notable for its repeated descending guitar motif, distant twang guitar and subtle use of space. The deft arrangement illustrates the value of dynamics, a resonant tone and a subtle change of pace.
Special guest Joel Patterson also adds some effective lap steel on the shimmering ‘Cherry’ on a track coloured by an array of tones.
Sometimes ‘Clinch’ gently beguiles us, as with the hypnotic groove and unintended pun of ‘Lay Your Burdon Down’ (the song contains no reference to Eric from The Animals). The guitars jangle, the bass quietly pulses, but Martin Olsen struggles with his vocal range.
They finish with the late night, back porch feel of ‘Aurora’, on which Olsen recovers his composure with some pristine diction that brings real presence to the track.
The band restate the basic essentials of space, time alongside Andreas Andersen’s glistening tones on a moody, but concise finish to an enjoyable album that is only a few songs short of being an exemplar of minimalist blues. ****
Review by Pete Feenstra
Pete Feenstra presents his Rock & Blues Show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Tuesday at 19:00 GMT, and “The Pete Feenstra Feature” on Sundays at 19:00
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