Review: TBelly – Dead Men Don’t Pray

Posted on: Wednesday, Jun 24, 2015

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TBelly – Dead Men Don’t Pray

(Cabinmusic)

The debut album from TBelly is an interesting 11-track collection, with most of the songs penned by Manchester-born Russell Keefe, who has a huge ‘growl’ of a voice – think Tom Waits meets Joe Cocker and you’re not far off . . . he also supplies piano and Hammond organ here. Along with Ross Ian Lardner (guitars) and Kevin Magill (drums), he was also a member of Les McKeown’s Bay City Rollers . . . so a somewhat dramatic musical shift has occurred.

Making up the rest of the core band are Riad Abji (bass) and Debs Bonomini (acoustic guitar and backing vocals), with some telling contributions from the harmonica of Al Richardson. Russell Keefe also co-produced “Dead Men Don’t Pray” with Paul Winstanley, the album recorded at Brighton Electric Studios.

Proceedings get underway with the rocking strut of “Tie It On My Face”, dominated by some fluid guitar from Ross Ian Lardner, and impressive harmonica work from Al Richardson, complementing Russell Keefe’s big voice and the backing vocals of Debs Bonomini. The pace is taken down for the following “Lie In The Desert”, with Keefe showing his piano prowess – the tune having a definite Tom Waits feel to it.

The title cut, “Dead Men Don’t Pray” has a fearsome bass line from Riad Abji and more noteable harmonica; before another mood shift as “Best Out Of You” starts with some gentle strummed acoustic guitar before Keefe’s voice thunders in, with musical contributions from guests Bela Emerson, Mike Sasiadek and Daniel Ferreira; Ross Ian Lardner’s song “Respectable Man” rides on a funky guitar riff, with Russell Keefe on Hammond organ.

Elsewhere we have the appealing slide-driven “Mr TBelly Blues” – all fierce guitar, piano and harmonica; the jazz-tinged “Night At The Ritz”, with possibly the most imposing vocal on the album; and the slow blues of “I’ll Get You Home”, with another chance for Lardner to show off his impressive guitar ‘chops’. “I Want To Be With You” veers into a pretty hard rock mode, again riding on an impressive guitar and keyboard riff.

A new British band to check out for sure, who have produced a most enjoyable full-length debut album . . . definitely recommended!

GRAHAME RHODES

www.tbellyband.com

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