14 Dec 2015

Wily Bo Walker and E.D.Brayshaw - Stone Cold Beautiful

It is unusual for The Hat to review two albums by the same artist so close together but 'Stone Cold Beautiful' has proved irresistible. This album is already getting a lot of preview air play and it is easy to see why. Just six tracks, all good, with the first and last, powerful and full-on, book-ending four beautiful moody blues noir pieces that are so laid-back they are almost horizontal. Any of these central tracks could be quite comfortably slotted into a gritty Louis Malle movie and improve it.

The opening track 'Storm Warning' kicks in with a cracking six minute smack in the face with both Wily's husky vocal and his collaborator E.D Brayshaw's guitar buzzing at full gallop with all the valves open. Floating above all this are some melodic backing vocals from Karena K beautifully complementing a terrific high-flying stramash.

A big change of gear for the Loudon Wainwright cover 'Motel Blues' and the lyrics of this, together with the mellow 'Loan Me A Dime' which follows it, seem purpose-built for Wily's soulful voice and E.D's beautifully paced, gentle, easy and mean guitar. These are smart track choices, as is the self-penned 'I Want to Know' which is Wily the story-teller looking mournfully for answers to the familiar blues elusive love problems. This track is also peppered with some terrific sneaky keyboard fills which give it both width and a cool Southern back bar flavour.

I suspect that 'September Red' is a track that will be around for a long time. It is a lengthy piece (7.30) that oozes confidence and gives everyone breathing space to strut their stuff. A beautifully constructed track that works at every level and I do hope that the radio stations can find room for it despite its length. The final number 'Killers on The Run' has E.D Brayshaw's ripping, raw guitar front and centre, taking the album to a riotous grand finale with full vocal backing and seeing us out with some urgent driving keyboard and frenetic percussive support. Leaves you breathless...

This is a big EP at nearly 40minutes and I gather they have plans for a Volume 2, funds permitting. I hope they go ahead. The Hat noticed that the album was final mastered at Abbey Road and certainly the arrangements and the production standards are hugely professional, giving both vocals and instruments a good balanced input. However, that is just a bonus to what is a fine album stuffed with style and talent. (Released 22nd May and available for pre-order)