Husky Tones Music
10 songs – 50 minutes
It isn’t unusual for Bristol, England, to produce musical talent – it’s the hometown of Acker Bilk, the first Brit ever to top American pop charts in the early ‘60s, as well as Bad Company, Tears For Fears and dozens of punk and New Wave bands – but the Husky Tones, a four-piece ensemble led by a singing female drummer, are a blues band rarity.
This is the debut release for the group, which began formation about 10 years ago when guitarist Chris Harper met singer/percussionist Victoria Bourne and was overwhelmed by her voice, range and versatility. The pair formed a lasting partnership on stage and off that resulted in bands in several different genres. But their love for the blues always bubbled beneath the surface when then where performing in groups that followed in the footsteps of Radiohead, Tim Buckley and others.
Husky Tones came about after the pair made a venture into musical theater. Despite being influenced by Stevie Ray Vaughan, Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker and Buddy Guy, they deliver a relentless onslaught of modern blues, aided by Matt Richards on bass and Liam Ward on harmonica. All three men provide backing vocals on Time For A Change, which features 10 originals. Making a one-song guest appearance is Ken Pustelnik, drummer for the legendary British blues band, the Groundhogs.
The band’s sound is husky in name only, however. Bourne, who recorded the vocal and drum tracks simultaneously, is definitely more of a soprano and her voice becomes quite shrill when attacking notes in the upper register.
Ward’s harp line swings warmly to introduce “I’m So Happy I’ve Got The Blues,” in which Victoria explains that she’s better off after having lost everything and now has nothing to lose. The tune features an interesting stop-time hook that hangs on a whole note. Harper’s guitar playing is solid, but there’s a failure to sync when Ward provides backing rhythm. That memory fades quickly during a shining harp solo.
“I Dare You” races out of the gate before evolving into a blues-rocker as it delivers a six-minute challenge for a lover to change his lousy ways. “Uncle Walter” is a straight blues that describes a ne’er-do-well relative who’s a forger, thief and wife-beater. “Shelter” describes a relationship in which the singer feels more alone when in her lover’s company than when she’s all by herself.
“Fortune Seeker” offers a vow to keep trying to succeed despite seeming being immune to good luck, while “It’s A Bitter Love With You Every Time” offers up the realization that the singer’s been seduced by a smile and strong drink only to discover that she never should have given the man the time of day. The theme carries forward in “Give Me Love.” This time, the man gives her chills when he’s around, but he withholds affection.
The band touches on a familiar blues theme with “Rent Party,” the cycle of having to host a regular jam literally to keep the roof over their head, before the instrumental “Daybreak” and title tune, “Time For A Change,” conclude the set.
Available through the band’s website or the Microsoft store, Husky Tones offers up an interesting, albeit it flawed first effort. But it will be interesting to hear what they have to say on their next go-round.