12 songs time-54:35
Spear headed by Angela Portolesi’s sultry and soulfully infused vocals, this Australian band is a powerhouse force as they present a mélange of rhythm & blues, blues, funk, soul, a tad of country and roots music to arrive at an intriguing sound. Angela and Stephen Portolesi wrote or co-wrote all the songs. Benjamin Cunningham is the co-lead singer as well contributing electric guitar along with two other band members. When Angela and Benjamin combine their voices in song a palpable sexual tension is created.
The musicianship more than ably supports the songs, as guitars, organ, drums, piano, mandolin, fiddle, harmonica and background vocals weave in and out at just the most opportune moment to create a wondrous cacophony.
After a brief jazzy organ and guitar intro the band kicks it into funky high gear with Benjamin delivering soulful vocals before Angela takes over with her sultry pipes supported by backing vocals in a bit of gospel fire on “Truth Be Told”. Some catchy guitar riffing doesn’t hurt one bit. A seductive slide guitar riff props up Angela’s sexy, breathy vocals on the title track. Benjamin handles lead vocal chores with Angela bring up the rear(no pun intended). Some really nice and bluesy guitar is interjected into the R&B gem that is “Deadwood”.
“Nitty Gritty” is a slow slice of Memphis style R&B were you can touch the sexy tension in the duo’s back and forth vocalizing. Angela’s hushed voice is set against churchy organ and piano on “Peace X Peace”. As it isn’t listed in the liner notes who plays what where, someone delivers a slow and pensive guitar solo. By the time Ben joins on vocals the tune takes on the feeling of a revival meeting. “Pabla’s Grace” is a haunting piece where Angela’s trade mark hushed soulful vocals spar with the backing voices. The tune includes a simply gorgeous toned guitar solo.
Angela’s forceful vocal delivers a song of strength in “Evergreen”. Louie Higuera lends his organ skills to the funky “All That’s Good”. The band doesn’t pause for a breath before leading into the fast and funky “Charlie B.” that finds the duo trading off vocals against a hectic rhythm. Mandolin, fiddle, piano and country-ish electric guitar fire up the good timey “God Bless Mama”. Acoustic guitars and hand claps are the sole instrumentation on “Tales Of a Rich Man(Live & Acoustic)”. Benjamin and Angela alternate vocals on the slow burning R&B ballad “1000 Ways” to wrap up this emotion packed soulful recording.
You are left emotionally drained after this soulful experience has concluded. There is such a seamless craftsmanship at work here that is cunning in its’ deceivingly simple approach. The magical voices of Angela and Benjamin set against expert musicianship and top notch production propel this effort into greatness. Hearing is believing!