Review by Andy Hawes for MPM
Ivy Gold are a new name to me, although the individual members of the band clearly have some very impressive musical pedigree. Guitarist Sebastian Eder has played with Prog Metallers Avalon, while drummer Tal Bergman has played with Joe Bonamassa and Billy Idol.
Bass player Kevin Moore has played with Jennifer Rush and keyboard player Anders Olinder with Glenn Hughes. Quite the line-up, I’m sure you’ll agree! Add into this mix the incredible vocal stylings of lead singer Manou, and you have a line-up that is surely capable of great things! So, given that, what does Broken Silence sound like?
Well, quite different to what you’d imagine, I expect. Given the past projects of the band members, you’ll probably be expecting a quite hard-rocking sound.
However, that’s not quite what you get on here. Instead, you get a very bluesy, soulfully rocking, almost RnB kind of sound and it really is very tasty indeed. Eder has an absolutely delightful guitar sound – all smooth, yet brittle neck pickup Stratocaster/Telecaster in the very best modern blues tradition and his playing absolutely sings throughout.
Title track ‘Broken Silence’ opens proceedings with a slinky slow to mid-tempo vibe, delicious Blues guitar and massed almost gospel-styled vocals in the huge chorus. The track is exceptionally dynamic, moving from the quieter verses into the massive choruses with effortless ease and the guitar solo absolutely soars with aching melody and quite delicious fast-paced runs. It’s not the most obvious way to open an album (you’d normally kick in with an up-tempo belter) but it’s a fabulous track to be sure.
It is followed by ‘No Ordinary Woman’ which has a wonderful Blues/Funk vibe, almost Stevie-Wonder-esque at times, with awesome choppy guitar and Hammond organ interplay before another Gospel-tinged chorus roars out of the speakers with glorious brass stabs accentuating the beat and the melodies. Eder’s soloing is once again mightily impressive and Manou’s vocal is both powerful and melodic.
‘Got What I Need’ is another mid-tempo belter with that glorious combination of Bluesy guitar and Hammond Organ centre stage once again. Drummer Tal Bergman excels here with exquisite command of his kit. The feel he exhibits to keep the silky groove going is absolutely wonderful and it was only when listening to this track on my first play-through of the album that I realised just how important Bergman’s contribution is to the tracks here.
‘House of Cards’ has a Kenny Wayne Shepherd/Stevie Ray Vaughn vibe in the opening riff, but then throws in a curve-ball with an almost AOR chorus and a few almost Progressive moments in the instrumental interlude prior to the solo. This is followed by the slow grooving Blues/Soul ballad stylings of ‘I Am That I Am’, which is characterised by highly emotive and expressively soulful lead vocals, massed Gospel backing vocals and quite gorgeous guitar playing.
At this point we are halfway through the album and I have been struck by just how varied it is. Although the guitar tones are very similar in most of the songs, the actual structures and styles are extremely varied – way more so than on some Blues albums, which to my rather untrained and rock-centric ear can often sound a tad samey. However, that is not a criticism that can be levelled here.
‘Six Times Gone’ is another mid-paced monster, with Tal Bergman’s drums plying a relentless groove while Eder supplies a colossal Blues-Rock riff that smoulders and drives the verses furiously before another massive singalong chorus and an almost Prog-Rock musical interlude before the inevitable guitar solo. The structure of this song is varied and hugely powerful, with clever dynamics throughout. Impressive song-writing indeed and very impressive production and arrangement too!
‘Sacred Heart’ starts off all spacey and ethereal, before the drums kick us into another smouldering Gospel-tinged slice of Blues/Soul. There are almost jazzy overtones to this one and Manou’s vocals bring a real sense of soulful emotion to proceedings once again. There is so much space in the production and arrangement here. Everything just has loads of room to breathe, which really adds to the power of the track, something that is a feature of most of the album, actually.
‘Drifting’ starts off with a chugging train in classic blues fashion before perhaps the most Rock-inflected Blues riff of the album kicks the track off. Tal Bergman is once again one of the stars of the show here, combining full and half-time beats very cleverly and quite unusually to add interest and dynamics to the track. This is followed by ‘Broken Wings of Hope’, which is another quite brilliantly written Blues Rocker with more wonderful vocals and scything guitar.
The album closes with the live bonus track ‘Old Love’ which is just wonderful Blues balladry, and shows just how good Ivy Gold are on the live stage, before ‘Silence’, a 12 second guitar and vocal with just the words ‘broken silence’ over a picked guitar arpeggio ends proceedings. An oddly pretentious way to end an album that has been the very antithesis of pretentiousness throughout.
I’m not normally a fan of predominantly Blues-based music, but this album had me hooked from the off due to the way that it cleverly melds Blues with Rock, Soul and even Prog into the tracks. It really is superb, primarily due to the quality of the writing, production, arrangement and the performances of all involved. Do yourselves a favour and check it out if you’re into any of the modern Blues acts out there. It might just be one of the best Blues -based albums you’ll hear this year!
The album is available everywhere on the net in CD, LP and digital format: https://linktr.ee/ivygold.net