There are talented people, and then there are talented people. Every single member of Blues Pills are talented. When their first EP Devil Man was released I was blown away. It was like you were listening to a ’60s supergroup. But no – they were in their 20s. There was a sense of maturity in their music, and not just with the sound, but an overall feeling that these guys were not playing around. That continued brilliantly in their full-length self-titled release. Sticking with the Janis Joplin meets Jimi Hendrix meets Led Zeppelin vibe, the self-titled release was just more proof that Blues Pills were a powerful group to be reckoned with.
And now two years later we have Lady In Gold and it is almost as if Blues Pills can do no wrong. Lady In Gold has a more soulful sound, with vocalist Elin Larsson being less Janis Joplin and more Ella Fitzgerald meets Aretha Franklin meets Patti LaBelle. Dorian Sorriaux’s guitar work has maintained a ’60s/’70s sound which sound amazing with the soulful groove of Zach Anderson and André Kvarnström’s bass and drums respectively.
From the very first notes of the opening track “Lady In Gold” you just know that this album is going to be something special. Once in a blue moon a band comes around that leaves you speechless. You just listen to them with undivided attention and a constant jaw drop. Blues Pills is such a band. They really are that ridiculously talented. Lady In Gold is a relentless journey into soul, gospel, jazz and rhythm and blues. The organ led “I Felt A Change” slows the tempo down for a beautiful ballad, that leads into the steady opening beats of “Gone So Long” that gradually brings that high octane energy back. This is testament to the fact that Blues Pills really think about track placement on their record. It isn’t just “let’s just have some fast and heavy songs, chop it off dramatically with a slower track, and then bring the heaviness back with no warning.” While, this kind of album structure can work, it wouldn’t work with a Blues Pills record. Just as I said about their Self-Titled record, they are here to take you on a musical journey, and they are quiet possibly the most gracious guides ever. They don’t want you abruptly turning down one road, only to turn around, take that other one and then quick get back to that first road. They Googled Mapped this. They are taking you down the best path possible so you can enjoy every second of this 40 minute journey.
Once again Blues Pills recorded in an all analogue studio – which you can really hear on the record. The recording approach suits the band’s style perfectly, and really helps transport you to another time. It even sounds like it was recorded 30/40 years ago. It has a more of a raw feel, less polished and just sounds brilliant.
Perhaps becoming a Blues Pills tradition, there is one cover song on the album – this time around the album ends with “Elements and Things” a cover of Tony Joe White’s 1969 track. I had never heard of the song before – and let’s be honest – I had never heard of Tony Joe White. So, I looked both up and Blues Pills surely would make Tony Joe White proud with this boisterous rendition.
Again Blues Pills have provided listeners with an experience and not just an album. They set the bar high with their EP, and easily surpassed it with their first full length record; setting what appeared to be an impossibly high bar for themselves in the future. But like Andre the Giant entering the ring, Blues Pills easily stepped over that bar without a second look back and have just continued to raise that bar. Considering their track record, I think it’s safe to say their next release will surpass that too. While we ponder what journey they will take us on next, just sit back and enjoy the soulful journey carefully paved for you within Lady In Gold.