This CD review was originally published in the April 16, 2015 edition of Blues Blast Magazine. Be sure to check out the rest of the magazine at www.bluesblastmagazine.com
Blueheart Revival – Stone Feathers
9 tracks / 46:03
It is always fun when a band goes outside the box and adds tangible elements from other types of music to an established genre, and blues is no exception. Blueheart Revival does this well, combining their blend of blues, funk, soul and rock with solid musicianship to create their own niche in the music world.
Blueheart Revival is a Washington, D.C. based band that brings a lot of original material to their listeners, as their debut LP, Stone Feathers, has eight original tracks and only one cover tune. This five-piece band formed in 2012, put out an EP in 2013, and is fronted by Bobby Thompson on lead vocals and guitar, with local hero Tommy Lepson on keys, Colin Thompson (no relation) on guitar, Kurt Kratch on bass, and Gary Crockett behind the drum kit.
Despite their almost Yankee origins, there is a southern rock feel to the first track, Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Early in the Morning.” There is no shortage of hearty Hammond B3 from Lepson, and the two Thompsons lay down some righteous guitar riffs, including masterful slide work. For this lone cover tune on the album, they reworked the original into a more modern tune and did it just right, making it one of the standout tracks on the album. It is always cool to get off to a strong start!
The second song, “On Her Wings Again,” is also solid and things gets funky with wah on the rhythm guitar and a neat dry sound to Crockett’s drums. The backline holds this song together with a tough groove of bass and drums under Bobby Thompson’s growly vocals. A cool element on this track is the guest percussion work by Leon Mobley of Ben Harper’s Innocent Criminals. If you are not familiar with his work you should check out his bio, as he is a fascinating cat who has a diverse musical background.
This quintet can also cut loose with a blues rock jam or two, as found in “Until We Shine” which wins the heaviest guitar riff of the day award. This sounds like the kind of song that was refined from a Tuesday night blues jam where everything went right. “Setting Sun” has a similar feel, but this time with a little more classic blues influence combined with the hard rocking beat, and terrific vocal harmonies between Thompson and Crockett.
Lepson takes the helm on “Consider Me,” bringing his hearty vocals and strong organ work to the party. This song has more of a rhythm and blues vibe, and this more laid-back feel allows the meaning of the words to come forward, and shows the mature songwriting skills of Blueheart Revival. This also goes for the sole acoustic track on the disc, “Get it by the Grace,” which has Delta and gospel influences, plus a bigger than expected sound thanks to the stereo effect of the two acoustic guitars and the rich vocal harmonies.
This release finishes off with the two most polished tracks on Stone Feathers, and they are also the longest songs, which is all right because they are both pretty awesome. The title track is a radio-friendly with a catchy guitar melody and the story of a girl who is hard to connect with. And the closer, “Morning Stranger” has a crazy slow funk-rock AOR mood that takes advantage of every vintage effect that they did not find a place for anywhere else on the record (and that is a good thing).
Stone Feathers is a fun album with no two songs that sound alike, and it certainly never gets boring. Blueheart Revival put together a strong debut, and they are not sitting still. They are putting together a gig schedule, and are releasing a live EP with three tracks that were recorded in November at the their CD release show at the IOTA Club & Cafe in Arlington, Virginia. If this album is any indicator of what their live show is like, the EP should be a good buy too!