Blues Arcadia – Carnival Of Fools
Brisbane, Australia is home to Blues Arcadia. Blending blues and soul, the band sings and plays with a lot of passion. They were the 2017 Australian BMA winners for Best New Talent and their first CD (an EP) was nominated for best EP at the same awards cycle. Here they offer up 11 original tracks, a full album of well-crafted music.
Ireland’s Alan Boyle fronts the band as vocalist. Transplanted to Australia, he worked with this band and in solo efforts . On guitar is Chris Harvey, another transplant, this time from London. Based in both jazz and blues, he’s got great tone and feel. Parmis Rose on keys graduated from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music with her focus on jazz piano. She is a helluva keyboardist.Jeremy Klysz is on bass. Moving from sax to bass, he ventured through punk and rock before descending on the blues. Casper Hall is the new drummer and shares duties with Steve Robin and Back Flatt. The King Biscuit Horns are super- Shaun Ballagh on tenor, Clint Allen on trumpet with Brad Ebensen on two cuts, Alex Price on baritone, with Papa Joe Roberts filling in on the same two cuts as Brad.
“Seven Days A Week” combines piano and horns in support of blistering guitar. Boyle sings passionately, Harvey lays it out on guitar and the piano work by Rose make for a great cut. Next up is “Hear It Now,” with a nice a mid tempo groove, more killer guitar and thoughtful vocals. “Remedy” is a ballad of sorts, a slow blues rock cut with angst filled vocals and lots of emotion. The horns do a nice job behind Boyle here. It’s a very interesting cut! The title cut is next, another ballady tune with somber overtones, nice guitar and sultry keys. “Two Wrongs Don’t Make A Right” follows with more emotive vocals. The guitar and organ are again in front and here the horns return for more depth. The song builds to a big finish, nicely done overall. “The Ballad of SIr Tralyne” is not a ballad at all but a mix of swing and blues and rock with a jumpy beat and they bring all the instruments to bear again.
“I’m Your Man” begins stripped down with vocals and guitar but moves quickly to a blistering cut with great guitar work and piano and strident vocals. Mixing honky tonk, blues and rock, this one’s quite cool, too. Jen Mize is featured on “Liars And Thieves,” doing some sultry and ethereal vocals in the latter parts of the song. It’s a slow and down tempo cut that Boyle and company build up to another emotion fulled finish. “Pity The Fool” has a nice groove to it that swings a bit and once again showcases Boyle’s vocal skills. The piano and organ get lots of time featured here- Rose is the real deal. They let lose on “Bad Bogaloo” with a big guitar leading the charge. The horns add to the mix as the driving beat and more vibrant vocals maintain a rapid pace to get your blood really flowing. The album concludes with slow blues in “Good Thing.” Guitar, piano and vocals mesh into a beautiful mix of sound as the horns slide in for good effect. The guitar solo is once again great and Rose finishes things off on the piano with some really cool stuff.
There are so many bands out there and when you find a new young one with talents like this, one gets a nice, warm feeling that the future of blues is secure. The global presence of blues music with bands as far off as Australia maintaining the flame of roots music bright and intense is a good thing. This is an excellent album with an outstanding vocalist/songwriter, superb keys, exemplary guitar, an amazing horn section and two guys in the backline who are right up there with the rest of them. This is an album I really enjoyed and would love to see live some day. I think this one is a winner and well worth buying and playing over and over again!