One Eye Open

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One Eye Open
Own label

From Glastonbury and five strong, Swampgrass cook up an impressive noise. Touted as "alt.blues", a new category to me, they score points for the breadth of blues territory they inhabit confidently.

One Eye Open's ten songs are all original, products of the writing partnership of guitarist Brad Lister and singer Sharon Honeywell, both of whom excel too in their performance roles. Drummer Dru Franks and Andy Barnett on bass provide well-judged, low-key ballast and harpman Al Cosnett expertly flavours the Swampgrass sound and, wait for it, knows when to drop out and not saturate every song or fill every gap. Such economy might be a lesson to more famous Delta sax purveyors.

The title track has a lovely rumble and a memorable riff as its instrumental hook, and 'Hell No' is a jerking rhythmic delight, showing how a 12-bar structure can still be arranged to great effect without cliché. 'Grandad Frank' and 'Heart Attack, swing beautifully, the latter displaying some Brecht/Weill touches, whilst 'Got Me Goin'' is 2'48" of fine no-nonsense dance music.

It's not all hard electric drive though. 'Little Things' and 'My Own Fool' show that in a corner of Somerset, there's subtle soul sensibility as Honeywell, whose occasional studio shrillness might easily be tamed by a tweak of the reverb control, leads the band masterfully over the undulating terrain, as Franks and Barnett push from the back.

Date added: Apr 20, 2016

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