Devil’s Music – The Empty Chairs (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

There can’t be many musical genres which cling tighter to the nostalgic sounds of their own past than rock ’n’roll. Punk perhaps, but there is something about the golden age of rock’n’roll’s, admittedly massively influential sound, which its devotees seem to wish to protect from the ravages of time and influences of the modern age. And although it provided the shock treatment which allowed the modern musical era to be ushered in, surely it shouldn’t be required to exist in a crepe-shoed, pre-pubescent, nostalgia bubble. Evolution not revolution and all that sort of thing!

And if that be the case then Devil’s Music is the sound of evolution. For this is music with all the hallmarks of the original sound, those bluesy grooves, country licks, natural swing and rock and roll energy but it is also the sound of gentle transition. Rather than a mere plagiarising and plundering of past glories, Devil’s Music is the sound of the next chapter being written, one that continues the story into a logical next chapter. 

Opening sonic salvo Preacher lays the ground work, country-rock fifties style, hypnotic guitar grooves and a melodic bass line, one which works a bit harder than you might expect but after all this isn’t three chord rockabilly, this is something altogether more deftly wrought and dutifully delivered. The title track is full of swing and swagger, No Fury takes simple musical lines and makes them sound busier than they are, that’s what’s called doing a lot with a little, and Mama Don’t is a bundle of pent up energy which explodes, though perhaps not as dramatically as I might have hoped, into an early rock and roll groover.

And if I had any criticism I would have to say that the drums seem to be playing catch up, following the groove of the songs, rather than driving them, which means that they have missed a few opportunities to really kick the point home sonically, to awe when they instead ahh! If you know what I mean. But as a first outing it gets the job done, the songs are a neat call back whilst simultaneously proffering a new, made over take on early rock and roll. A history lesson if you like, but a history lesson that you are going to feel the urge to dance too. Music lessons were never this much fun in my day!

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