KRIS BARRAS BAND - Light It Up (Album)
He may not quite be a household name yet, but the rate KRIS BARRAS is climbing the ladder of success, it won’t be long until he is. From playing covers of ZZ Top in pubs to sharing a stage with Billy Gibbons while touring with Supersonic Blues Machine. Other collaborators and tour supports have included some of the best blues guitarists out there; Joanne Shaw Taylor, King King, John Mayall, and Walter Trout. With these influences and opportunities, it’s no surprise that THE KRIS BARRAS BAND go from strength to strength, and are now set to release their third album in five years, ‘Light it Up’ in September, let’s just hope it’s a Lucky Friday the 13th.
Since forming the band in 2015, Kris has been on the road almost constantly. Having just completed a support slot with Black Stone Cherry, Kris will be headlining again in the autumn to promote the new album, no doubt having won over a whole batch of Cherry-heads who got in early enough to catch Kris play his old hits, and a few sneak previews from ‘Light it Up’.
For all you existing fans, there’s plenty familiarity about the new album, basically carrying on from where ‘The Divine and Dirty’ left off. That old Barras rolling riff appears in several of the new tracks, but Kris also forced himself out of his comfort zone and has managed to fire off at a tangent for a couple of tracks that are totally new, and almost unrecognisable. Breaking the shackles of being tied to a certain genre, Kris has let his creativity flow on this album and may catch a few of his fans by surprise.
Perhaps as a warning for what is to come, album opener ‘What You Get’ is pure Barras rocking blues, following in ‘Hail Mary’s’ footsteps, but the lyrics hint at a “take me as I am” attitude, and here it is, like it or lump it! In a similar vein, ‘Broken Teeth’ harks back to the past, both musically, and from Kris’s early fighting career, which has helped set his character to not be afraid of a few ‘cracked knuckles’ and getting his hands dirty fighting for what he wants to achieve.
The album continues to rock on with a tried and trusted formula with the funky blues ‘Vegas Son’, and title track ‘Ignite (Light it Up)’, which has already become a live favourite, and is almost written for a bit of crowd participation. The tracks run along smoothly and consistently into ‘6 AM’, another catchy rocker, which hints at when Kris does most of his songwriting.
Halfway through the album, we hit the game changer! A change of direction for the band, a ballad with more Hammond organ than guitar, which must be a first for Kris, to take a backseat and let Josiah J Manning have a large piece of the intro. A laidback, no-frills, radio-friendly track, originally composed on an acoustic guitar but transformed nicely to full electric.
‘Counterfeit People’ is also fairly mainstream, but could be interpreted as a reflection on the state of the country at the moment.
Thankfully, ‘Let The River Run’ gets back to the southern blues, and Kris wants music to become the therapy for treating life’s problems if you just let it flow through you and wash away those blues.
‘Bullet’ and ‘Wound Up’ are a great pair of powerful rock songs, the likes of which we have come to enjoy and appreciate even more when played live, and both of these would fit perfectly into the set.
There are some great riffs and a bit of cowbell on ‘What A Way To Go’, as Kris again experiments, and changes his style slightly to great effect. Penultimately, Kris reminds us he has no plans to leave us yet, as ‘Not Fading’ stamps its mark on the rock scene, and defiantly leads us towards the final track on the album, ‘Pride Is Forever’, a mantra Kris has transferred from his fighting to his music as a reminder that pain is short-lived, but glory can last as long as you do.
An outstanding album that will appeal to the loyal fans out there, and draw in the new ones who have seen the band on tour recently, and want more. There’s a good mix of rock, blues and southern, as we come to expect from Kris, and a few pleasant surprises too.
Light It Up:
1. What You Get
2. Broken Teeth
3. Vegas Son
4. Ignite (Light It Up)
5. 6 am
7. Counterfeit People
8. Let the River Run
10. Wound Up
11. What A Way to Go
12. Not Fading
13. Pride Is Forever
Kris Barras Band Online:
Kris Barras - Guitars/Vocals
Josiah J Manning - Keyboards
Elliott Blackler - Bass
Will Beavis - Drums