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Review: 'Uncle Nef'
'Love Songs'   

-  Label: 'Ropadope/Guava Records'
-  Genre: 'Blues' -  Release Date: '21.10.19.'

Our Rating:
Uncle Nef is the current vehicle for New Orleans drumming legend Shannon Powell alongside Darren Hoffman and some well-chosen friends, Love Songs is concept album concerning the end of one love and the start of the next one and round and round in the normal cycle of life.

The album opens with the deeply soulful blues of That Was That, that comes with a wailing guitar solo and gospel chorus vocals from Solid Harmony as they say there regrets at the end of the relationship that leaves Morgan Guerin blowing his sax out across the rooftops as the love has drifted away.

Cabrito is spare drumming coupled with itchy guitars to get a real rumble going on like your shuffling across a crowded bar room to get to someone that interests you before you try to dance your way into their heart.

Beat To Eat starts with pneumatic drill sounds giving way to a blues inflected song where Shannon tells us he Beats to eat, yes it's all about the joys of playing for your supper and would sound great in the sort of diner or roadhouse that has good food and music and not chicken in a basket as it's a bit too sophisticated for that with the brass section and backing singers throwing some fine moves.

The first cover on the album is of Jimi Hendrix's Jam 292 (Jelly 292) that they take to it's over amplified blues roots and just throw loads of organ at it to make it their own and yes Darren Hoffman does wail and moan on that guitar solo as it fights for supremacy with the Jimmy Smith style organ solo and of course a full on in your face drum solo this sounds like it could go on for 20 minutes live even though it's only five and a half minutes here.

It Hurts opens with running water and a bongo before opening out into a wide screen tale of loves deep despair and it's the first song that Darren sings rather than Shannon and his style is more like a singing narrator rather than Shannon's Blues shouting and cajoling.

They then take on one of the songs just about every New Orleans based musician must know how to play the old Louis Jordan classic Caldonia and they do enough to make it fairly fresh and all the action is in what they are doing to it musically scatting around the melody and really making sure it still sounds as exciting as it would have been to hear 50 or 60 years ago.

A-Side sounds like they want to make a modern Hendrix style blues song but have ended up instead with what sounds like an outtake from Kebnekaise's legendary Electric Mountain album as this has a very Swedish prog sound to it.

They then update Fats Domino's Sick And Tired that is another of the staples of the day to day New Orleans musicians armory and this and Karl Roussel's stride style piano should really help to get everyone moving before Shannon's Careworn vocals let's her know it's done.

So Alone starts with the crickets chattering away and Shannon on a porch in the back of beyond deep in the Bayou drowning in his own pity now he's all alone and will that guitar squiggle or two help him out of that mess he's in and is a Snowy White style guitar freak out really the answer.

They take a bit of a left turn on a cover of Nirvana's Tourette's that's all low-end grumpiness going in search of a fist fight or an explosive guitar rupture.

The album then closes with a version of the old English folk song St James Infirmary Blues a song I seem to review at least a version or two of every year so this years version is played as a slow dank blues with slow measured vocals and well some brilliant backing vocals more than breathing life into this centuries old song, the guitar really feels like the pain you might be in during the pre-antibiotics and painkillers age this song comes from that makes this a great addition to the who knows how many versions of this song I already own and yes as ever make sure to keep clear of going to hospital if you're in Nottingham.

Find out more at www.unclenef.com
  author: simonovitch

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