A new album from a new band to me came my way this sunny December day, one that for me, I would find inspirational and absolutely unique. Embers by Blackfox drops on my desktop, and a more unique album you would be hard to find. What I liked about my journey through the release was the influences from both 70’s and 80’s and 90’s music, and now in the era of 2022 we have a brand new and very appealing sound from it.
So let’s introduce the band first, Blackfox are, Stacey Cargal: vocals and guitar, Greg Wright: bass guitar and piano, Mitchell Sosebee: drums and percussion, Jim Combs: keyboards and synthesizers, Ryan Taylor: guitar, Monica Arrington: vocals, Andy Gish: vocals and last but not least, Kendra Rainey: vocals. Here we have a band who rightfully believes that music is the out and out truth, the very first song on this album emphasises that beautifully, and called What About You? Now as you listen to this album, and of course this track, those many influences may poke their musical heads from behind their respective drum kits, a powerful driving force can be found on this opening creation, one that for me reminded me of the early days of artists like Alice Cooper and David Bowie, perhaps even bizarrely mixed with early UK band The Jam.
The following musical narrative is a horse of a totally different colour, and one that reminded me greatly of the band America, the song is entitled Follow Me On Down, a song with an open heart and mind, and a truly fresh feeling of freedom within its overall creation.
The vibrant opening on To Be Real pushed a sweet melodic piece, which will, I warn you, become incredibly addictive with each listen given. Hats off must go to bassist Greg Wright, his plunging yet smooth performance here was without doubt the engine room of a piece that flowed with fluent harmonies and textured vocals, here is a song that could easily be a single with ease.
Exploring the slower side of a musical reality is a fascinating project, and one that the band has done sublimely on this next piece called From the Inside, with ease my favourite offering from the album, and a track that is so very listenable indeed, at times Stacey Cargal’s vocals remind me strongly of early Bryan Ferry, but grittier, the growth of this song from its original foundations to its apex is stunning, also stunning were the keyboards of a certain Jim Combs, a man who is very well known to our listeners.
Speaking of Bryan Ferry, the opening foray of this next piece entitled Strange Anymore reminded me slightly of Roxy Music, but soon morphed into a deep and expressive piece that expressed the endings of a relationship, as the composition grew and flowed into the chorus. I could imagine this song would not have felt out of place sitting on an album like Billion Dollar Babies, it is that good.
Ah Ah Ah is up next, and this slice of soft rock may sound simplistic, but it deserves the respect it commands, a fascinating and complex performance on drums by Mitchell Sosebee lit this track up for me, while Cargal’s guitar and R.E.M like vocals, manifested a wonderfully all-embracing pop song.
A really good acoustic guitar can add a whole new dimension to a piece, we have that here on Monsoon, also a jazz like bass rhythm too from Wright, which once again created a totally unique sound for the band, the sound garden created by Combs on keyboards drifted around the piece, manifesting a truly listenable piece that once more could make a very interesting single release.
A strum, and were away with another track entitled I Wonder, a piece that had a delightful powerful repose, one that reminded me of the old New Wave style of the early eighties, with energies of both The Dammed and even U2, into a mix of music that would become incredibly appealing and incredibly forceful in its musical desires and toning.
The Night Comes would be one of those tracks it would be impossible to not like, the counter point of major and minor chords is one of my favourite progressions, the opening gambit was wonderfully layered, and the added backing vocals and instrumentation made this song for me one of the most superior from the album, and one I personally found deeply compelling.
It’s unusual to see the title track at the penultimate offering of the album, but it’s certainly worth the wait, Embers has that emotive quality about its construction the way that Dire Straits did with Brothers in Arms. This pastiche of musical colours and style also has a little Stones feel, in the same way as Jagger gave to his Wild, Wild Horses.
I always like it when artists, bands, singers, go out of a project with an anthem styled offering, here Blackfox seize the moment and do just that, with the track I Need to Know, a short but poignant and very moving piece; the gentleness of this composition is a delightful way with which to conclude the album.
Embers by Blackfox is an album we should treasure, it is a fine example that all in the world of creativity, artistic endeavour has not passed, the band have manifested one of the most original rock based albums of the year without doubt, and this group effort of supportive talents should stand tall and proud and be pleased with this imaginative project of sublime craft, their open mindedness and willingness to build from the roots on up should be applauded, and perhaps a lesson in creativity for us all.
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