Review: Federal Charm – self-titled

Posted on: Sunday, Jul 7, 2013


Federal Charm – self-titled

(Mystic Records: MYSCD213)

Young Manchester four-piece, Federal Charm, have released a most confident and swaggering debut album – not really a blues band, but with some influence on their ‘big sound’. This self-titled introduction to them boasts an impressive 11 original songs, and just one cover, showing they know how their way around some soaring ‘anthem’ like tunes and catch hooks.

The band comprise of Nick Bowden (vocals and guitar), Paul Bowe (guitar), L D Morawski (bass) and Danny Rigg (drums), with a few guest musicians, namely Justin Shearn (keyboards), Pete Robinson (keyboards), Emma Ramsden (vocals) and Dan Jones (slide guitar). The music was produced on ‘home turf’ at Ouija Studios in Manchester and mastered at Hafod Studios, Wales.

The music gets off to a rousing start with the ‘double whammy’ of “Gotta Give It Up” and “I’m Not Gonna Beg” – both highlight Bowden’s classic rock gritty vocals and his and Bowe’s two-guitar sound, driven by the punchy rhythm section of Morawski and Rigg. The pace stays up for the stop-start riffing of “No Money Down”; before the bluesy and gentler “Somebody Help Me”, with some nice keyboard work here, and tasteful acoustic guitar. The piledriving rocker “Reaction” kicks off with a great guitar salvo and some complementary slide playing on this, another tune that perfectly illustrates the bands youthful swagger!

The longest track here, “The Stray”, rides on a “Roadhouse Blues’ type bass line, with the guitars meshing on top before Nick Bowden delivers another assured vocal. The only cover sees a radical reworking of Lowell Fulson’s classic “Reconsider Baby”, here presented as a Fleetwood Mac-style slow blues, that does recall the early days of Peter Green’s much loved outfit – more power to them for trying something a little different, and without detriment to their own tunes it is a standout.

Elsewhere they turn on to a nice groove on “Come On Down”, a funky rocker with great guitars; the high-energy “Any Other Day”, which fairly rattles along; with this assured debut closing with the country-flavoured intro of  “Too Blind Too See”, before the twin guitars thunder in.

This will appeal to fans of the rockier-end of the blues – they reminded me of the great band Thunder, and the likes of Northern Ireland’s The Answer. They seem to have all the ingredients to be around for a long time, and good luck to them!


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