Album Review, MUSIC-NEWS.COM Apr 2020 4/5*
One of the best things I’ve heard this year (and there have been some crackers).
Zoe Schwarz has a very unique voice, faintly reminiscent of Eartha Kitt and Nina Simone but with a strong Blues base to her sound. In company with husband Rob Koral she is the heart of Blue Commotion and this is the latest of a long back catalogue. It may just be the best and most complete album that the band had produced.
The sound of the band hearkens to the early days of British Blues where the jazzers were beginning to cross over into Blues and bringing their horn and bass sounds with them. Powerful, punchy and between Koral’s guitar and Pete Whittaker’s Hammond & Wurlitzers they really do have a full and tasty sound. Paul Robinson on drums is remarkably subtle. Schwarz was classically trained as a singer and you really can hear her control and range on this material.
The album was recorded at Superfly studios last September, produced by Andy Banfield, and mixed & mastered by the master, Wayne Proctor.
From the opening track ‘Life Goes On’ through to the finale on ‘Come And Lay With Me’ they lay down a masterclass of jazz tinged Blues and Schwarz vocal ranges between pleading, sultry, tender and downright sexy. Koral’s guitar solos are considered and fluid, sometimes straight jazz and others are almost Clapton-esque in their speed and the way he combines a riff and a melody in one. The horn section of Ian Ellis on sax and Patrick Hayes on trombone really back up the sound.
My favourite track is probably ‘Hello My Old Friend’. Opening with a lovely Wurlitzer line from Whittaker, it is a slow and heartfelt number with a gorgeous vocal from Schwarz as she sings of the people she has lost along the way. Koral’s guitar solo is awesome and adds massively to the emotion of the song.
I’ve been a fan of Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion for a long while but this feels like the album that brings all the talents together. One of the best things I’ve heard this year (and there have been some crackers).