Review by Gary Spiller for MPM
From the flames so the phoenix gracefully rises, casting a new light and burning hope anew. When Western Sand announced that their set at last year’s Nozfest, in Southampton, was to be their very last there was a noticeable chill running in the air.
That moment of sadness was, however, tempered by the statement following.
Words which brought news of energies re-invigorated, a drive and passion re-engaged and a re-branding. So here we are a few months on and in a new year with the debut EP release from that re-branding firmly grasped in our sticky paws! Black Water Redemption have landed, glorious in name and equally so in musical offerings.
The five tracks contained herein holler right out of the Solentside badlands with a kickass attitude. Even the meanest son of a gun won’t be able to match this quick shooter on the draw. There’s a seasoned confidence that bristles with an edgy maturity employed within.
The twin six-string talents of Tyler Hains and Jimmy Bradshaw lead the way forwards joined by bassist Dan De Vries who worked with them in the latter chapters of Western Sand. The drum-work on the EP’s first four tracks was recorded by Sand’s drummer Nathan J. Kay with most recent recruit Zoot Hill-Vallier taking up the baton on the fifth, and final, number.
A solitary, doleful bell rings out across the deserted townscape. Tumbleweed blows out of the alleyway across the main street as a single silhouetted figure heads between the emptied buildings. Bar the incessant caw-caw of the ever-watching cemetery crow all that is left is ‘Tombstones And Deadwood.’ Emanating across the plains gritty, desert-dry licks roar. Heavyweight rhythms pulse with Richter registering forces. “Born to die” as the lyrics go but we’re going to have a bloody good time along the way!
Continuing to weave an intricate magic the twinned guitars of Tyler and Jimmy ratchet upwards in ‘The Ballad Of Jack Porter.’ A relating of sordid excessive drinking and wretched domestic abuse ending with the taking up of arms as the raconteur puts things to peace.
“One thing I know for sure, that man’s better off dead” growls Tyler in this tale of atonement whilst wrestling with his conscience. It’s an immersive experience in which the listener, much like those of the Ancient Mariner, are firmly in the front-row. It’s a rare skill in employment within this most arenaceous of gravelly rock.
Riding shotgun with the Devil dirtied angels, their wings fuliginous from the smut of the rock n’ roll furnaces, offer their chalice. A prosperous groove entices one to stray into realms of raising hell. Not a difficult choice personally as ‘The Angels Share And The Devils Cut’ washes over me like the advancing tide. The tasty stuff continues apace.
Anthemic is, in all honesty, a word a touch overused but genuinely and truthfully it 100% applies to tracks like the next one up on this fine EP. ‘Fly Like The Crow’, it’s a soulful, captivating number that’s been booting about for a while. The first time I heard Western Sand play this live I was enthralled. It’s a signature tune without a shadow of a doubt! I, for one, am delighted to see it dwell, reworked and reimagined, herein.
In parts gentle and emotive in others roaring like the beast on the hunt this is a veritable rollercoaster that peaks, soars and tumbles within its course. With a chorus written to be sung by the masses and a turbulent solo that takes to flight this is destined to be a live favourite.
With an Americana-infused intro full of acoustic tones the final track ‘The One’ bursts into life in spectacular fashion whilst grasping firmly on to its Southern core. Accelerating hard, tyres burning on the dirt-road, the Devil thunders out of town. City limits in view, full-bodied flames in the rear-view, Black Water Redemption has fulfilled its first chapter in spectacular manner.
Listening to this five-track offering I’m utterly convinced the band has been, at once, enlivened and emboldened by the change of name. A renewed sense of purpose and drive courses through their collective veins. A positive springboard to catapult headlong into 2023 and beyond.
Catch Black Water Redemption live supporting Sons Of Liberty on Friday 10th February at The Patriot, Crumlin. Also appearing at the Love Rocks festival in early June. Visit their website for further information and to purchase ‘Between The Angels Share and The Devils Cut’ – https://blackwaterredemption.uk