CATFISH - Burning Bridges (Album)
Multi award winning UK blues rock band CATFISH blew many of us away with their second album 'Broken Man' in 2017 so I was eager to check out if this latest release could match up. The answer is simply, God yes. 'Burning Bridges' was released in May this year and is 11 tracks of solid gold. This is a band I suggest everyone see live at least once, their songwriting is thoughtful and poetic and their live performance is electric.
This album does nothing to deter me from the belief that this band are a budding national treasure, in fact it reiterates just how great they are, how fresh and current whilst retaining a maturity and authenticity to classic blues rock.
There are many highlights of the album for me, it's practically all killer, so I'll touch on all the tracks to give you an idea of the style and diversity, and also the quality of the music.
'Up In Smoke' opens the album with a sultry riff and that big vocal Matt Long can wield like a sword. The track is a heavier sound than expected but deliciously so, showing a ferocity, a dirty rock track with a thunderous bassline. The powerful vocals are matched perfectly with a blistering guitar solo from the talented guitar virtuoso and lead singer.
The soulful vocals on 'Break Me Down' are met with a pounding drum beat and funky groove, fast and furious in places, a classy blues-rock number done with panache. The bass in 'The Root Of All Evil' reverberates through my ribcage, the vocals rattling my brain, the track turned up LOUD. This is about as heavy as blues can get and the interplay between keys and guitar is sublime. More Black Stone Cherry than BB King, with a killer riff and a deep snarling vocal laced with raw emotion.
'Soulbreaker' starts with a thud and a hum and then sexy vocals are accompanied by a deep rumbling bassline that drives up from your feet to your throat, vibrating your whole body as it pulses through. The track is more stripped back than some of the others but oh so powerful.
'Archangel' is slowed down, again drenched with emotion - something this band do better than anyone else I can think of right now. This is really evocative and builds in intensity towards the chorus. The gospel-like backing vocals add even more depth to the sound and Matt Long's guitar virtuoso performance is of a quality that is incredibly rare. 'Under The Gun' is a more classic blues-rock style, made all the more exciting by some smokey, whiskey-soaked vocals and more mesmerising guitar work.
Paul Long leads the way on a few of the track including 'Ghosts', replacing his son on lead vocals, a gentler track with a truly haunting melody courtesy of the keys and a bloomin awesome guitar solo. 'Too Far To Fall' is an enjoyable romp with a prog edge and the scuzzy guitar on 'The Big Picture' adds another level, an edge which makes it all the more addictive. Paul's star quality can be truly felt on 'One More Chance', a simple yet stunning ballad featuring just Paul on keys and vocals. Beautiful.
The pièce de résistance closing the album is the spectacular 10-minute track 'Exile' - worth the price of the album alone. The haunting guitar and quiet melancholic vocals lead us into a tale of depression, and this song displays exactly why comparisons have been made between Matt Long and Gary Moore. Those two are the only guys who can bring me to tears through wringing every last drop of emotion out of their guitars. It is a stunning and heartfelt track. As it builds I find myself holding my breath, every hair on my body is alive with emotion. Damn it, he made me cry again. This will be phenomenal live. If you've not seen it, check out a live performance of 'Make It Rain' from 'Broken Man' and this outshines even that.
There seems little else to say except that this band goes from strength to strength and that list of awards is set to grow. This is a serious contender for album of the year and I don't feel, even now, after pondering over this review for about a week, that I've expressed just how good some of those tracks are. You'll have to try it and thank me later. Phenomenal. A pleasure to listen to and still on repeat.
Matt Long - Guitar / Vocals
Paul Long - Keys / Vocals
Adam Pyke - Bass
Kevin Yates - Drums