Tag Archives: paul long

95. MALAYA BLUE “Heartsick” (2016). A pre-release review.

(Image: Malaya Blue)

(Image: Malaya Blue)

They say the second album is always a difficult one to make. When I spoke to Malaya Blue at a gig last summer (see my article #64), she was very much aware of this; and it is worth quoting the lady once again: ‘There’s a little bit of me that’s anxious about the second album’ she told me. ‘Its always difficult.  Do you do the first album again? Or do you move into something new?  There is the danger of people buying the second album, and the first thing they do is compare it to the first. But I have the opportunity to be better, bolder, brighter –  bring something slightly unexpected.’ Well she had some song titles back in August, and the deadline she gave then, March/April, has been met. She and her boys have been working hard, that’s for sure.

So what, I hear you ask, have the lady and her team come up with this second time? Malaya’s manager Steve Yourglivch sent me a pre-release download of the eleven-track Heartsick for review; and I must say I was immediately impressed by the whole collection. It is certainly not a copy of her first album – the remarkable, and highly acclaimed Bourbon Street. From the opening riffs on the title track; through the heart-rending emotion of ‘Acceptance’; the breath-taking keyboard and guitar solos on ‘Colour Blind’ that made me smile in appreciation; and the chirpy optimism of ‘Share The Love’; to the final unexpected ending of ‘Soul Come Back’;  it is a beautiful journey through Malaya’s musically creative mind.

There was something of the Soul Diva strongly hinted at on Bourbon Street; (even more so on the double A-Side single released last summer); and Malaya’s musical background has certainly been steeped in that genre; but her very successful foray into Jazz-Blues on the debut album has enhanced this first love, and contributed to a well-rounded collection this time, that owes everything to the sum of her vocal/musical experience to date. The result is probably a far more personal album than the debut, I think. There are Soul; Blues; Jazz; Rock; Funk; and Gospel vibes going on in this album. This what Malaya Blue is all about!

On every song, She is dripping honey-voiced emotion over skillfully woven tapestries of layered sounds. She sings from the heart; from the soul… they are mostly her songs and totally her lyrics after all. And they are good lyrics too – interesting, and cleverly worded – demonstrating her considerable skills as a wordsmith too.

A fine band of musicians were assembled for the album. These consist of Malaya’s band: Dudley Ross (Guitars); Paul Jobson (Keys); Stuart Uren (Bass); Andrew McGuiness (Drums/Percs). And in addition to these: Paul Long (Piano); Carl Hudson (Piano); The Westward String Quartet (Strings); and none other than the legendary Blues aficionado Paul Jones (Harp). Strings were arranged by Dudley; Paul Long and Malaya’s husband Graham Pettican. The album was recorded at The Grange, Norfolk; engineered by Dave Williams; and cover artwork is by Chris Pettican.

I can’t comment on the CD version yet because I haven’t seen it. But it apparently comes with an eight-page booklet of lyrics; credits; thanks etc. So its a big thumbs up from the Quill. The album is released on Friday 1st April. PTMQ

Link to Malaya’s website

81. RUBY AND THE REVELATORS’ : ‘LIVE’ at The Tuesday Night Music Club (EP) (2015)

(Pic: O.Stevens)

(Pic: O.Stevens)

I was pleased to receive this new Ruby And The Revelators EP from Ruby herself recently. She had previously told me it was in the pipeline and I know she was very excited about it. Having heard it I can see why!

It was recorded at The Tuesday Night Music Club in Coulsdon, Surrey, UK, on 14th July this year; by Simon Taylor of EQ Audio. It is a five track EP of four covers and one original song.  It is the second EP from the band; the first being the excellent Vistas (2014).

Ruby Tiger of course is the vocalist; and the Revelators consist of:  Louise Maggs (guitar); Russ Grooms (bass); and Vinnie Lammy (drums). Between them they’ve jelled into a fine live band – as is apparent from this recording.  (Louise has recently moved from being bassist in the band to guitarist; replacing Ruby’s great friend and collaborator King Rollo).

The four covers are all well-known Blues staples: ‘They Call It Stormy Monday’; ‘Need Your Love So Bad’; ‘It Hurts Me Too’ (see my review of this Ruby single review #62); and ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’. These songs are so well-known that they need no introduction from myself. I’ve said before that I like covers that are not slavish copies; but rather fresh interpretations. I am not disappointed with these songs, as not only are they subject to Ruby’s genuinely emotional and singular vocal style; but they also benefit from Louise’s wonderful Jazz-orientated guitar chops, which makes every one of them a unique rendition. The only original number on in this collection is the heart-felt Ruby / Rollo penned, ‘Best Friend’ (from the Vistas EP). Again it shines because of vocals and guitar. The rhythm section of Grooms and Lammy are tight, reliable and competent throughout the EP too.

The CD comes in a simple slip case, designed by Ruby and Andy Gooding; with a photo by John Bull of Rockpix on the front. There is a lovely explanatory message from Ruby; and all the basic necessary info / credits etc. It is well recorded; and was mixed and mastered by Paul Long. My only (and very minor complaint) is that I thought the audience applause could have been mixed much louder to emphasise the live feel of the recording. Apart from that I think its a faultless piece of work.

All in all, its a very pleasing EP to listen to indeed, and I recommend it to anyone who likes their Blues on the Jazzy edge of the genre; or to anyone who appreciates great female vocal and fine guitar work. I’m looking forward to a full studio album from the band ASAP. PTMQ

For my review of the Ruby And The Revelators gig at The Chichester Inn, Sussex, in July 2014, see my article #16)

For more info on Ruby & Co (CDs, gigs etc) … http://rubytigersings.com/