Recently Dutch Blues singer MARIËLLA TIROTTO contacted me to ask if I would review her band’s latest album: Live In Concert – due to be released in February 2015. Her aim is to make herself and her band more well known in the UK; and this is something that she and her boys certainly deserve. Of course I agreed, being only too happy to help out if at all possible. So she emailed me a download of the new album with all its associated paperwork. And here is my review of it…
The album cover (Pic by permission of Mariella)
Blues (in any of its many facets) is a form of music that benefits greatly from the live performance. Seeing and hearing a band play live can be a magical experience. Capturing that magic on record is not too easy when you consider the myriad things that could go wrong; yet such a thing has been achieved by Mariëlla & The Blues Federation, on their album Live In Concert. It is something that the band’s followers have been craving for some time; and at last it is here.
The album was recorded at the E-Sound Studios in Weesp, near Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. A select audience of around 65 loyal fans were invited to the session; ensuring an enthusiastic response and an intimate ambience. The set was played twice; taking the best shot of each song for the finished album. Minimal mixing was required, and the result is therefore, an honest rendition of the band’s live performance – just what the fans ordered!
The line-up is as follows: Mariëlla, is of course, on vocals; HEINS GRETEN on Keys; ARNO HAGEMANS on Bass; JOHN KAKIAY on Drums; MICHA SPRENGER on Guitar (standing in for their usual axe-man LOEK VAN DER KNAAP who was unfortunately unavailable for the gig); and special guest ONNY TUHUMENA on Percussion. These are all very good experienced musos; each making an impressive contribution to the whole.
Live In Concert is an 11 track collection of songs, both old and new. Some are taken from the band’s previous two albums; and a couple of brand-new ones were even tried out on the fans for the first time! Many of the songs were penned by Mariëlla and her co-writer/husband, Heins Greten – and very good they are too. Most of the vibe is towards the funky side of the Blues spectrum; but there are strong elements of Jazz, Rock and Spiritual Blues in there too – quite a good cross-section of sub-genre styles. This demonstrates, not only the versatility of the band; but of the Blues genre itself. However, anyone who has already heard this collection, and who knows me well, will be able to guess that my pick of the bunch would be the minor Blues number, ‘Too Blind To See’; (an EELCO GELLING / HARRY MUSKEE penned piece – a video of which I have linked below).
The star of the show! (Photo by permission of Mariella)
Right from the start, Mariëlla’s vocals are the dominant aspect of the show. Her gutsy, emotive voice and vocal style are at the cutting edge of this whole performance. She can sing out the heart-felt emotions with a passion – whether it be necessary to sweetly sing the gentler, pensive passages, or belt out the grittier ones. She is the star; yet around her, orbit the excellent musos that make her performance shine so brightly. Even from the first track, ‘If You’re Goin’ To The City’, we are treated to keyboard, guitar and drum solos, that set the bar high. And further tracks do not disappoint. The rhythm section is tight and comfortable together, providing a reliable foundation for the excellent, fluid guitar and keyboard solos.
The album cover is very good indeed; providing fine live photos; credits; thanks; and lots of other information. My readers will already be aware that I like a lot of background info; and this is also provided on the recording too, by Mariëlla’s spoken preamble before each song is introduced. Most of this is in Dutch of course, but we have the album notes in English to refer to. Song lyrics are also printed – unusual for a live album – but clearly sung in English anyway.
Recording; production; engineering; mixing, and mastering, are all very good too. Mariëlla and Heins being heavily involved in it all; and thus creating the album that they envisaged. It is a gift to their fans. It is one of the best live albums I’ve heard for ages; and if this is a taste of what the band can do, I’ll do my best to be there when they eventually play the UK.
Here is a link to Mariëlla’s website:
Here is a video of Mariëlla and her boys playing the excellent ‘Too Blind To See’ …..
Beste wensen aan mijn Nederlandse vrienden!