Long Tall deb and Colin John have collaborated to make an intriguing and delightfully evocative album. Their web site says, “Following up on the themes of their 2015 EP, Streets of Mumbai, DRAGONFLY incorporates a bedrock of blues and soul sensibilities with rock and roll, surf, spaghetti western, noir jazz, pop, Americana and world roots influences gleaned from their travels throughout America, Europe, India and Nepal.” That kind of sums it up. Blues, soul. and all sorts of cool stuff woven into an interesting album!
Deb is on lead and backing vocals. Colin does a duet on the first and fourth tracks and also does backing vocals while playing many forms of fretboard instruments and even piano on one track. On drums are mostly Jimmy Castoe; James Cunningham and Jo El also so a track each on drums. Michael Hill is on slide for “Trouble.” Nate Hofman is on organ for 5 tracks and Chris Stephenson is on another. Jeff Jensen plays rhythm guitar on “Lungs.” Mick Kolassa backs up vocals on a few tracks and Claudia Hernandez provides spoken Spanish on track 6. Bass s provided by Melvin Powe, Bill Ruffino, ad Cliff Starbuck.
Things begin with a spooky and spiritual intro to the song entitled “On The Way Down.” The intro is deep and dark, reeking of swamp and dark and mysterious places. Deb and John sing on this and then the song is the second track with Deb handling vocals and John and the band driving an intense beat. John’s guitar is forceful and blazes as the rest of the folks provide a throbbing and cool performance. The title cut follows with a feel and sound like a theme song to a spaghetti western mixed with a Debbie Harry song. The big, hollow electric guitar sound evokes old soundtracks and Deb’s vocals really made me feel like this was Blondie Goes West. It’s an odd combination but it’s cool. Rocking, not really blues, but cool nonetheless. Very ’60’s like and they use the transformational symbol of the dragonfly to describe what they’d been going through and feeling for a couple of years. “Lungs” is the lone cover, a thoughtful and introspective sort of piece with some killer guitar work and vocals by both parties.
“I’ll Be The One” follows, a soulful rocker with inspiring vocals. Psychedelics and sitar make this another one that is out there yet restrained. Cool stuff. Next us is “Pull The Pin,” a dark song about a relationship gone so bad Deb pleads for the pin to be pulled on the grenade or the trigger pulled on the gun. They might call this noir jazz, but it’s hard to pin a genre on “Pull The Pin” (no pun intended). Bluesy, perhaps a little country, entirely slick. “Trouble” comes up next; big, thumping beat, stinging guitar and strident vocals. A nice blues rocker for sure!
The next cut is “Horizontal Lightning,” jazzy with a sort of tango feel to it. Slow, deliberate, mellow and subtle. The guitar and vocals both are restrained and interesting. “Lights That Shine” emotes Americana. Cool slide and a small guitar riff that had to be from The Stylistics woven into it (from “You Make Me Feel Brand New”). The final cut is “Dragon Fly, Slight Return.” It could easily be and instrumental from an Ennio Moriconi soundtrack from the 1960;s or 1970’s. Very cool.
There is some blues here, but this is more than the blues. So many influences and genres get fleshed out here. There is something for everyone, delivered by an outstanding singer and superb guitar player. I enjoyed this a lot and if you want to hear a band just give it their all and enjoy making music of all sorts then jump right on board!