Cast Iron (label)
27 January 2017 (released)
It’s one of those delightfully unclassifiable albums – ostensibly this is Blues but there is plenty of Trad Jazz in there as well as New Orleans early grind but it all makes for a really enjoyable listen and there is no shortage of musical talent on offer.
Mike Baker supplies most of the guitars and Howard Birchmore’s harmonica playing is quite superb – skittering around in the background and supplying a great melody line at other times. Stannard has brought in a guest rhythm section of Julian Bown on bass and Andy Crowdy on drums and they work to give the music a jaunty and up-tempo beat with Bown’s bass right on the mark – a heartbeat to the music.
The title track has a real bluegrass gospel feel to it with the Farnham Voices Community Choir and Julia Titus really bringing a sense of old-style churchism to the number (it is available as a free single – see the link at the end).
‘Separation – 2’ is a rag that describes the traumas of having multiple girlfriends and trying to keep them all separated. The harmonica has a real sleazy edge to it and the number is great fun.
The majority of songs here are originals but they include a super version of Jelly Roll Morton’s classic ‘Winin Boy Blues’ – I remember seeing George Melly do a version many years back and this is comparable.
The darkest number on the album is probably ‘Ain’t No Living With The Blues’. Moody and dense with fine guitar playing from Jason Manners and piano from Matt Empson really bringing the hurt.
The version here of ‘House Of The Rising Sun’ cleverly stays well away from the Animals desperate Blues – still a cautionary tale but not as pleading as before.
All told, a cracker of an album. Not exactly your standard Blues but the scene today is wide and covers many different forms and John Cee Stannard has a unique and enjoyable niche.
Link to free download – https://www.musicglue.com/johnceestannard/