Fast Nasties – Nouveau Blues
CD: 13 Songs, 53:00 Minutes
Styles: R&B, Ensemble Blues, Jazz-and-Soul-Influenced Blues, All Original Songs
The UK’s Fast Nasties deem their style of music “progressive blues,” or as they call it on their latest album, Nouveau Blues. To traditionalists, that translates to “uh-oh,” so let me give them the down-low. This is an R&B extravaganza as flamboyant as Fourth of July fireworks, featuring clear homages to Santana, Eric Clapton, and other melodic guitar icons. This is also an ensemble blues extravaganza, featuring several instruments strutting their stuff simultaneously. Vivid? Yes, but there’s too much going on to focus on any particular instrument’s virtues. Even a traditional tune such as “Long Time Ago (Way Back When)” sounds a bit “crowded.” Blues fans, if you’ve ever been to a holiday party with more colors and flashing lights than you can handle all at once, but you’re still having a great time, that’s akin to what you’ll find here. To counter this, lead vocalist Eric Martin’s pipes are smooth yet strong. He doesn’t mumble or yell, holding his high notes on a pleasing pitch. The rest of the Fast Nasties follow his eclectic style.
“Our aim with this album,” explains Eric, “is to show that blues (as the purists know it) can coexist within the same composition as many of its subgenres: rock, soul, funk, and gospel. We try to weave a wide range of genres into our arrangements. That bleeding and layering leads to new interpretations of what blues can be; it gives our music a kind of richness and depth you don’t associate with traditional blues.” For further explanations, he adds, “Think ‘Motown meets Led Zeppelin.’ It’s built on blues roots, but the style we’ve developed uses that as a base for something much more melodically uninhibited.”
Performing alongside Eric Martin are lead guitarist Andreas Laursen; Robert Woods on rhythm guitar; Dan Montgomery on bass; Damon Cleary-Erickson on drums; backing vocalists Desiree Cross and Jessica Wolf; Bradford King on sax, and Chris Couvillion on trumpet.
The three songs extolled below are the catchiest out of this baker’s dozen of original tracks.
Track 01: “Hello Beautiful” – The clearest and most gorgeous homage to Santana that I’ve heard in ages, this album’s opener is exhilarating. “Hello, beautiful. Would you like to dance? I’ve been waiting all night for the courage to take a chance.” Such lyrics may be simple, but out of Eric Martin’s mouth, they emerge with poetic passion. Lead guitarist Andreas Laursen plays wingman in spectacular style. Grab a partner, everyone, because the first opportunity is the best.
Track 05: “Handle My Scandal” – With a killer bassline by Dan Montgomery, this blues-rock ballad depicts a Trauma Conga Line (as coined by TV Tropes). “It’s a cold, cold world when your money is low. You can’t pay your rent and you’ve got to go. I’m burning both ends of a waxen candle. Lord, please help me handle my scandal.” Another great line is, “It’s hard to tell right from wrong when your stomach is growling all day long.” Bleak yet beautiful in its way.
Track 06: “Get Right” – Heavy on horns, this is another great party tune. “Get right, get left!” cry the various vocalists. Improvisation is king here, as are enthusiasm and electric energy. One can imagine track six played during a car chase in a movie, down slick city streets at midnight.
As the Fast Nasties prove, a little Nouveau Blues goes a heck of a long way!