Review by Paul Monkhouse for MPM
The blues have always been with us, it’s origins as music starting centuries before what is perceived as the modern iteration came in with artists like Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Robert Johnson.
It connects every single person on this planet, makes us cry, makes us laugh and makes us dance. Fast rising husband and wife duo When Rivers Meet have swiftly been making a name for themselves and their take on the blues covers all the bases with a sense of style and individuality that is impossible to ignore.
With new album ‘Saving Grace’ the husband and wife duo have shown they’re not only ready for the big leagues but have all they need and more to see their names in lights, the sound full and rich.
There’s a primal element at work in opener ‘I Can’t Fight This Feeling’ that speaks to the very bones, Aaron Bond’s gutsy riffs and the soulful wail of Grace Bond combing in an almost mystical way. Amongst the dirty blues there’s a sense of dynamics that Led Zeppelin would have been proud of, the sound of the guitar otherworldly as the vocals take you to Heaven and back.
On that theme, there’s a Gospel brightness to ‘Never Coming Home’, a pop sensibility hiding amongst the swooping fretwork and the organ that rises, adding jags of light in stark contrast to the crushingly heavy ‘He’ll Drive You Crazy’ which sees everything turned up to ‘Destroy’ on the meters.
Things are cooled back down again with ‘Don’t Tell Me Goodbye’, it’s slow, arching blues coloured with a dash of Country and a whole lot of soul that dips into the best of Americana. Featuring a duet between Grace and Aaron, their voices provide the perfect blend, just enough counterbalance to captivate the ear, the silk and sandpaper truly heady.
One thing that’s very noticeable in ‘Saving Grace’ is this four seasons in one day approach to the material, the moods constantly shifting from track to track like sands in the desert.
This all makes for a much more interesting record, the Bond’s eschewing any of the pitfalls of finding a successful formula and doggedly sticking to it. Sure, the blues is the foundation of all they do but you can go from the drama filled stomping of ‘Do You Remember My Name’ through to something lush and sweeping, but filled with power, like ‘Have No Doubt About It’.
This latter track has hints of the key ingredients that would normally make up the archetypical James Bond theme, When Rivers Meet joining along with fellow blues chanteuse Beth Hart as heirs apparent and ideal candidates for the role to feature in the next soundtrack of the super spy’s adventure. The campaign starts here.
It’s not just the music that varies from track to track, the moods do too, with the darkly Gothic ‘Eye of a Hurricane (Friend of Mine part 2)’ sitting happily next to the rumbunctious Gospel of ‘Testify’, the soulful ‘Shoot the Breeze’ paired with the funky ‘Lost and Found’. Closing, it’s a killer one / two knockout punch of the beautiful and utterly stripped down ‘Talking in My Sleep’, Grace and
Aaron’s vocals raw over an acoustic guitar followed by ‘Make a Grown Man Cry’. The album ends on this monster of a track, it’s big and wild, the grease under its fingernails and the roar in its ears like a hot rod being fired up in Billy Gibbons garage.
In a year of great releases, When Rivers Meet have saved one of the best ‘til last. ‘Saving Grace’ is a knockout.
Available from – shop.whenriversmeet.co.uk Check us out – www.whenriversmeet.co.uk