Review: Blackstone – Blackstone

Posted on: Thursday, Nov 4, 2010

(self-titled, self-release)

From Amlwch, on the beautiful island of Anglesey, comes this fine six-track release from the multi-talented Steve Blackstone and his band . . . the former frontman of the hard-working Baloo’s Band doesn’t really revisit his blues past now, but has turned to a most appealing rootsy sound, with a Celtic feel to it . . . and here, he and his fellow musicians have produced a mini-album to be proud off.

Apart from Steve Blackstone, who features on vocals, acoustic and slide guitar and harmonica, the other musicians are Gemma Jones (vocals), Nathan Owen (acoustic and electric guitar, keyboards and drums), Chris Gibbs (bass) and guest spots from Russ Cowburn (guitar) and Owen Hughes (percussion).

The opening “Blood & Tears” is a gorgeous ballad, with Nathan Owen’s fine piano work to the fore, and the lovely vocals of Gemma Jones – the perfect contrast for Steve Blackstone’s deeper voice. The true story of “Lifeboat” is the epic here . . . a local tale of true heroism involving the legendary lifeboat skipper Dick Evans and the Moelfre lifeboat crew, who went out in appalling conditions to attempt the rescue of a stricken ship . . . a haunting song, quite beautifully played and sung.

“Worn Warm Tyres” has a country feel, from Steve Blackstone’s tasteful harmonica intro, and with sweet vocal from Gemma Jones, in perfect harmony with Steve Blackstone. The sparse “Naked” is another heartfelt ballad, with former Baloo’s Band compatriot, Russ Cowburn, contributing a stunning guitar solo . . . with shades of Pink Floyd man Dave Gilmour’s tone.

The folky strum of “First Time” changes the direction again . . . it reminded me a lot of the type of material Rod Stewart put out on the early 70s records “An Old Raincoat . . .” and “Gasoline Alley”, a lovely tune for sure with a great acoustic guitar sound here. The closing “Badachub” is a Welsh language version of “Lifeboat”, translated by Gemma Jones and Bethan Jones, and sung entirely by Gemma, and quite beautiful . . . a fitting end to a fine release.


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