Every so often The Hat hears a new release that is so refreshingly different that he is obliged to play it again to catch all the nuances and sub-texts. The new EP coming from Rabbit Foot is just such an album.
I have watched the progress of this talented duo for a few years now and their spirited left-field approach to the blues is still a joy to hear and - even if you wanted to - impossible to pigeon-hole. They started out some time ago as purveyors of what they then called Swamp Boogie Blues - although you would be hard pressed to locate Tony Joe White in there anywhere - and quickly earned a reputation as a truly exciting live act.
With Carla Viegas powering up the drums and bringing her beautiful liquid crystal voice to play across everything like an irresistible naiad and Jamie Morgan driving it all along with his extraordinary and very personal fierce guitar sound mixing blues, rock and vibrant staccato tribal rhythms and lead licks, together they have created a totally distinctive sound that has gathered loyal fans to them wherever they have played. Although they set themselves a hard task to try and capture that live electricity onto a studio album, with these five tracks they have managed to bring us at least the essence of their sound.
As the title suggests, the album apparently reflects some strange times encountered by the duo and overflows with some very smart but really mean lyrics about how low down you can go, whether you care, possibly wishing you were dead and how do you get rid of the pain. This is tough stuff. Fuzz, wah-wah, echo and even feedback are deftly employed to this end.
Nevertheless, the lead track 'Tip My Hat' hits a more cheerful note in which Carla wraps her voice around you with smooth promises of love and you are left to decide whether she means it or not. The same ambiguity of lyric crops up everywhere and echoes the dark sentiment of the album. In 'Stubborn Child', Jamie gets to sing about the doctor who tried to deal with his youthful lows and on 'She Comes to Me' pain, clouds and rain pervade the issue of how well you really know someone. In 'Suite 136', the duo give a sideways look at the role of church and alcohol in alleviating all that stuff that can mess your head when your down. This track also sees Jamie really strutting his stuff, showing us how he can really fly with his guitar and what talent he has. The final up-beat piece '1234' intimates that they may just have some answers to some of these problems - perhaps moving on from "can't take no more" - and it appropriately ends with a gleeful cackle from the pair of them.
This is a really interesting, highly original and exciting piece of work. It is a great balancing act between cynicism and hope. These five tracks demonstrate not only how talented they are as musicians but it also shows how they are able to write lyrics that are amusing and clever but also take a grown-up and demanding look at situations that can beset us all. Due to be released late January.