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October November

Babajack

 

BABAJACK

Exercising Demons

Self Production

Genre – Roots / Blues

Star Rating 8/10

This album was released a few months ago, before this site was established but it’s such a good record that we decided we should tell you about it.

If you’re looking something with a distinct sound and identity that’s firmly grounded in the Roots / Blues genre then this is for you. Babajack are a duo from Malvern Worcs. – Becky Tate and Trevor Steger – Becky sings and plays a variety of exotic percussion with djembe drum and stomp-box; Trevor plays a variety of resonator, wine-box (or cigar-box) guitars, and harmonica plus harmony vocals. They expand to a varying degree with string bass, violin, drums and other acoustic instruments.

The songs are all written by Becky and Trevor and exhibit a gift of melody and subtle shifts of rhythm. The influences of vintage blues, Appalachian roots music, Celtic and traditional folk are all there together with a subtle thread of Afro rhythm that informs the music in numerous places. The artwork recalls the arcane symbolism of some folk album covers of the 70’s. There’s an imaginative use of dynamics as they build the instrumental textures of the songs over repeating rhythm figures – the opener ‘Big Man Blues’ is good example – it opens with nice blues lick on resonator – then Becky’s vocal kicks in – the vocal has a very English lilt redolent of Pentangle and the English Folk / Rock music of the late sixties ad seventies ‘Hey big man did you understand Jesus was a Jew not a white man’ the melodic line repeats and repeats then the instrumentation kicks in and builds – its an exciting sound – the sleeve note says ‘it’s like Robert Johnson on acid’, well maybe but whatever it is a good and imaginative opener that establishes their basic sound.

Our review team loved that track and also felt that two other songs were outstanding – ‘Going Down’ is gorgeous, and for some reason we felt it had echoes of French music – a slight flavour of ‘Gypsy Jazz’ (maybe there’s a French sixth hidden in the harmony?)– it is an enchanting sound. The other cracker is ‘I Walk on Diamonds’ – this track possibly moves further away from the blues than most of the others – its has what is almost an American early 70’s folk feel to it but it is mixed with an African feel led by the guitar riff – we sensed that on a live gig this one might really lift off into an Afro-based jam.

The three tracks noted are standouts but there isn’t really a weak track – it’s all highly listenable and has the strength of being an instantly recognizable sound. Babajack are about to go into the studio and record a new album – it promises to be very good and that should build on the good foundation of this album. Babjack stand right out both in sound and style and they should continue to rise above the herd. This is highly recommended.

Review Team

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