Review: Fran McGillivray Band – Some Luck

Posted on: Saturday, Jul 27, 2013


Fran McGillivray Band – Some Luck

(Joka Records: JOKA 003)

Fran McGillivray and Mike Burke have been playing together since the early 70s, firstly performing as a duo, then in the mid 90s they formed the blues band So Long Angel and during this time the band released two well received albums. A few years ago they reconsidered their future and decided to return to the more accessible duo format; although in more recent times they have enjoyed touring the U.K. as part of The Spikedrivers Roots Revue. The album “Some Luck” is the culmination of about two years work and of the thirteen numbers only three are covers.

I would say that their labour has not been in vain for the musical chemistry of Fran and Mike is a delight to the ears for where Fran’s soft, subtle, earthily caressing vocals gently float over her own sturdy bass playing, Mikes rich, atmospheric jazz tinged resonating guitar work merges seamlessly with Fran, especially so on “Big Front Seat,” a sweet and ever so slightly salacious tale of a couples drive in the country; the enticingly catchy harmonica and dejembe-led Bo Diddley beat is supplied by Alan Glen and drummer Roger Nunn.

Overall the album has a gentle, warm even cosy laidback feel that can be easily experienced on such numbers as; “Candle Burning,” where Fran’s vocals waft gently over the rolling harmonic that is almost wallowing in the hypnotic and lyrical resonator guitar work. A bluesier mood is created with a thoughtful, slow and mellow version of The Mississippi Sheiks “Sitting On top Of the World.” Their compelling guitar and vocal rendition of the old bluegrass number “Hop High,” is short and sweet but utterly satisfying.

The more up to date “When A Love Grows Cold,” graphically and wittily describes the desolate and isolating feelings of a spurned love, over a jaunty rolling and pickin’ guitar. “Going Real Slow,” slowburns along with its low bass, riding underneath Frans’ smouldering and simmering vocals blending so well with Mikes’ richly mellow pickin’ jazzy guitar tones, together they combine to evoke a smoky late-night club atmosphere. The album tastefully finishes with a short stark rendition of Robert Johnsons “Last Fair Deal Gone Down,” Mikes scintillating resonator playing glows and shimmers while Fran sings in a strong, mournful and melancholy fashion.

This is an album full of pleasant surprises and equally interesting variations.



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