Albany Down - Not Over Yet
There are a number of new acts coming to the attention of music fans and being touted as “Heavy Blues”. One such act is Albany Down who’s CD Not Over Yet is a prime example of this newly created sub genre. As far as I’m concerned, none of the acts in this new wave of artists should really be termed blues, but that doesn’t mean they’re without merit.
Albany Down wear their influences very much on their sleeves as far as their musical heritage goes, there are obvious nods to Led Zeppelin throughout the record, touches of Pearl Jam and a sprinkling of Rory Gallagher. It is however the Zeppelin thread that’s strongest and therefore, ultimately, defines the band. Songs are heavy and hard hitting, with gritty guitar riffs to the fore, occasional forays into folksy acoustic numbers also turn up, along with ethnically influenced string arrangements. The opening number is typical in this respect, Back Again has the big guitars and warm cellos of a classic Led Zep epic, but sadly lacks the soaring vocal that Plant would have provided, it’s not to say that the singer, Paul Muir, is a slouch vocally, but he hasn’t been blessed with Robert’s instrument and it leaves the song lacking a little something.
Throughout the record there are moments where the music has received a bit of a modernizing update. The tones and recording methods are straight from the modern rock playbook and the occasional occurrence of a harmony lead from the guitars gives a nod to fans of modern metal. The thing is, that despite these attempts to bring things up to date I’m still looking for the originality that would lift this talented group out of the category of copyists. There are moments where your ear will prick up to an arresting line in a song or a cracking fill on the drums, but they’re too few and far between to make the record great.
It’s a good album, made by talented musicians and I can see it being a great success, there are many people who will lap this up and rightly so, classic hard rock isn’t something you hear a lot of at the moment and that, as far as I can see, is exactly where this band falls. Like their musical forebears the blues is there in the sound, they’re informed by it, but it’s only part of the spectrum that makes up their musical identity. Why this has been labeled as blues I’m still not sure, perhaps the success of the burgeoning blues revival has led the marketing to overemphasize that small part of the band’s makeup, or perhaps they see rock music as to unfashionable and fear being written off as irrelevant. In any case, taken as a whole it’s a solid effort that showcases bags of talent but doesn’t have quite enough of it’s own personality.