Sunday, 17 March 2013

Five Horse Johnson - The Taking Of Black Heart

Down 'n' dirty blues rock. The wild west conjured up via some boogie 'n' roll. Features guest vocals from Cheap Trick's Robin Zander.

Anyone with too sensitive a nature may want to give Five Horse Johnson a wide berth. The Toledo five-piece make music that doesn't pander to namby pambys. Instead they make hard, driving blues-rock that conjures up the pioneering spirit of the wild west; hard working, hard drinking, unapologetic and not to be messed with. Of course, some of us have a constitution that can handle that stuff. If that's the case stick around for tales of stubborn horses, wanted posters, hangmen, hard living, hard loving, and eye-for-an-eye retribution.

The band's seventeen years together has seen them release seven albums, the latest of which, The Taking Of Black Heart, maintains their trademark sound of electrified, heavy blues. The Job opens the album with vague, whale-like noises lulling you into a false sense of security before the drums and Zep-style riffs kick in, the guitar lines bolstered by some close following blues harp. “Will I stay on the road till I get what I'm owed?” sings vocalist Eric Oblander, neatly summarising the position of many a dues-paying rock band. Well, that's the road for you! As addictive as nicotine!

And that's the place where this album works best. I've given it a fair few spins over the last couple of weeks – at home, at work, even in bed. But the place where it makes most sense is on the open road, or in my case the A63. And a companionable travel buddy it is too, full of one-chord boogies pitched somewhere between Junior Kimbrough and ZZ Top. Of extra appeal to the older rockers out there will be the guest vocal appearance by Cheap Trick's Robin Zander on the soulful and funky You're My Girl (I Don't Want To Talk About It). One for the road anyone?

Click here for Five Horse Johnson's website.