Fried Okra – Doing It Right
CD: 10 Songs, 43 Minutes
Styles: Drone/Trance Blues, Contemporary Electric Blues Rock, All Original Songs
Much has been said/sung/written praising the blues and how it reflects life. Check that: the blues is life for a lot of people. At some point, everyone’s had “that low down achin’ chill,” and one of their chosen remedies is this magazine’s chosen genre of music. It expounds; it preaches; it heals. It reminds us that life’s course is rarely an ascent from triumph to triumph, ecstasy to ecstasy. A great chunk of it consists of plugging along, muscling through. That steady, persevering attitude suffuses the sixth CD from Denmark’s Fried Okra band, entitled Doing It Right. Its title is simple, its lyrics unpretentious, its atmosphere that of a steel-mill town on a brisk day in early winter. It’s a workman’s album, a craftsman’s production. Showmanship takes a back seat to gritty sincerity. On ten original songs, Fried Okra presents ten portraits of this aspect of existence – the daily grind.
Fried Okra has come a long way since their formation fifteen years ago. In 2018, they won the Danish Blues Challenge and reached number two at the prestigious European Blues Challenge. In addition, the band has been nominated for Blues Album of the Year several times at the Danish Music Awards.
Drummer/percussionist/backing vocalist Thomas Crawfurd says, “We are proud of the album, where we have found an expression and a sound that is very much our own.” Other critics, such as their fellow countryman Mads Kornum, have praised them for the way they mix and blend various musical styles to create an oeuvre that sounds new and different, yet familiar.
This trio consists of Morten Lund on lead vocals, guitar and Diddley bo; the aforementioned Thomas Crawfurd, and Anders Wallin on bass and background vox.
The title track starts us off with a beloved theme: comforting and warning your past self about your future self. Our narrator yearns to return to the “tender age of twelve,” when tween pressures were getting the better of him. “I wish I could go back, oh so many years, save a lot of time and quite a few tears. I’ll tell him about evil, tell him about good. I’ll tell that boy what he shouldn’t do, and what he should.” On balance, however, Lund is encouraging: “You’re doing it right.”
Next come “As Long as I Remember” and “Copenhagen Fast Track,” longer numbers with heavier subject matter – especially the latter. “I’m on a Copenhagen Fast Track, but I ain’t the only one. I’m with a band of pretty lonely boys to whom some leaving been done. Please don’t sell my soul, they say, but it ain’t for me to sell. I just put them on a fast track to heaven or through hell. The boys never counted on believing, but always on being believed. And they may have counted on deceiving, but never on being deceived. That’s why you’ll find them standing, stirring, feeling victims of some greater theft, ‘cause they may have counted on leaving, but never on being left.”
Instrumentally, their grungy guitar is like a fourth bandmate, telling its own stories while leading man Morten Lund tells his. The more it growls, the more it tells, and the results are beautiful. Even on the mellow ballad “Deep Water,” it doesn’t feel out of place. On the contrary, it flows just fine.
Fried Okra’s blues isn’t Muddy Waters’ or Howlin Wolf’s blues – not even Hendrix’s blues. They have a vibe all their own, and in their trance-blues niche, they’re Doing It Right.