The term ‘Supergroup’ is perhaps an overused term these days, so I think power-combo is more apt for the amalgamation of three outstanding southern blues solo artists who have come together to form ‘RHR’ (Redfern, Hutchinson, Ross). The product of these artists is like a tidal wave of rock when you hear and feel the mixture of steel, slide and fuzz guitars hit you in a triple assault to the senses.
The musical influences are many and varied, and the end result is like Blackberry Smoke jamming with The Cadillac Three and Marc Bolan. Add to the mix a drummer who sounds like he’s using a couple of tree trunks to pound the beat, and a young bassist starting to make a name for himself, and the stage is set for the new album ‘Mahogany Drift’ due out on 1st November.
With the song writing already done individually, it only required a couple of tracks to be co-created, then an unbelievably short time spent in the studio for producer Al Scott to pull this album together. Two days would normally be a decent time for a single, never mind an 11 track album!
Kicking off the album with a big guitar intro straight from the seventies school of classic rock is ‘She Painted the Moon’ where the three guitarists start to make themselves heard in their individual styles. Listen carefully for the distinctive crying blues, steely slide, and big fuzzy licks all combining in the background.
For second track ‘Rapture’, Hutchinson explains it best: “Imagine the Black Crowes having a smoke with T-Rex and the Beatles. ‘Rapture’ was written at 4am in a random hotel in the middle of Spain when I was on tour. It’s about a girl who is trouble and a guy who can’t seem to let go.” Is it autobiographical? I think we’ve all been there from time to time...!
For the next track ‘Judgement Day’ Redfern says it is a song about “Half remembered feelings and images from a childhood steeped in religion, especially the apocalyptic narratives of the book of Revelation. All this set against a silhouette of resonator guitars, old timey mountain riffs and a dark southern vibe.”
The first of the co-written tracks ‘Mahogany’ is a musical rarity these days, an instrumental jam session, checking in at only a couple of minutes, but it feels like it could have gone on quite easily for a lot longer, as again each guitarist has a chance to shine. And in fact the second instrumental later in the album, it is virtually re-fired up for ‘Drift’, which carries on where ‘Mahogany’ left us.
Commenting on ‘Ghost Hound Rider’, Ross explains: “I was thinking about magic buses, about Robert Johnson’s body being buried out by Highway 61 so his spirit could grab a Greyhound and ride. Reflecting on Skydog Allman’s swooping soaring slide and George Harrison’s biting solo signature. I reminisce over gospel tambourines and sparkling, lucid acid dreams of outlaw gangs on chrome-finned hogs in hippie finery and mirror shades. This ghost hound rider’s ALIVE!”
Redfern’s modern blues combines with Ross’s fuzzy angry guitar to give us a powerful rocking number for ‘Satisfied’ that finishes with a thunderclap and the sound of broken glass, which may be intentional, or just background shenanigans in the studio! ‘Solemn Song’ does what it says in the title, a slow lament, part acoustic, with just a lazy, finger picking solo thrown in to match the mood of the lyrics. Whereas this track is about getting away and escaping, ‘Holler’ is all about reunion and returning to loved ones, using the steel and slide guitars in place of the acoustic.
The short time in the studio comes to light in ‘Leviathan’, where Ross plays out a southern solo effort, and a few bumps and knocks come through as he rattles the steel guitar, giving the feeling of a live performance, but for purists out there it may be annoying, especially if listened through headphones.
Final track ‘Miles Away’ brings all the guitarists back into the fold to give a big mixing pot of styles and genres, sounding like a jam session built around a mutual appreciation of all things Americana.
Written and performed by three artists with a solid background in solo work, the short tour coming up will be interesting to see how they interact on stage together, and blend their slightly different styles. But for lovers of Blackberry Smoke, Black Crowes, Broken Witt Rebels etc, there will definitely be something in there that you will appreciate.
She Painted The Moon (Ross)
Judgement Day (Redfern)
Ghost Hound Rider (Ross)
Solemn Song (Hutchinson)
Miles Away (Redfern)
Troy Redfern - Guitar & Vocal
Jack Hutchinson - Guitar & Vocal
Mike Ross - Guitar & Vocal
Darren Lee - Drums
Jack Browning - Bass