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| 8 March 2020 | Reply

Proper Music
March, 2020
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

It seems obvious, but it’s worth repeating: The best music is full of joy: artists that work hard and passionately to create a piece of art that evoke an emotional response in their listeners are worth their weight in gold. That’s exactly what Zoe Schwarz and her band of merry men have done with their sixth studio album, Chameleon.

Arguably the band’s best set yet, the title reflects the eclectic nature of the dozen original tracks within.

Schwarz and her Commotion are as tight and faultless as can be: partner Rob Koral’s guitar playing is always exemplary; Pete Whittaker’s Hammond organ and Wurlitzer electric piano drench each song with colour and shade, always tasteful and never intrusive; Paul Robinson’s drumming reminds one of Charlie Watts in that he is capable of playing in multiple styles, is always as solid as a rock, plays exactly what and where is required and doesn’t need to rely on tawdry over-filling. As a bonus Ian Ellis and Patrick Hayes provide horns for some of the jazzier numbers.

Schwarz’s lyrics are resolutely upbeat, inspirational and empowering – none more so than on the bold, brassy and catchy single Amazon Woman.

Ostensibly, this is a UK blues band – but a blues band with more in common with the old days of the blues, when it had lately evolved from a collision of jazz and trad folk, and The Commotion are never shy to try new thigs, to create different moods and go to unexpected places. Furthermore, they don’t sound British – nor American, nor any other nationality. They simply sound like one of the best blues bands in the world, and that’s that.

In some ways the band bring to mind Led Zeppelin – not via heavy riffs and screaming vocal histrionics, but by the sheer eclecticism of the tracks on the album. Moods come and go rapidly – from blues grooves Better Days and If Only I Could Be With You, before the slower organ-heavy feel of reflective ballad Hello My Old Friend, which also features a searing guitar solo which Ritchie Blackmore himself would be proud of. Give Me The Key To Your Heart is all but a swing tune, impossible to sit still to. When The Blues Come A Knocking is a slow burning blues, I Cry Just To Think Of It is a sultry torch song, and album closer Come And Lay With Me is smoky, smooth jazz-blues.

Chameleon is a spine-tingling album, featuring plenty of twists and turns as well as fantastic playing. It’s a record which is empowering – not just to women, but to us all, for to help create and maintain equality makes every one of us stronger individually and as a whole. Most of all, it’s a record which is quite possible more of a joy to listen to than it obviously was to create, and a superb work of art.

Category: CD Reviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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