CD: 12 Songs; 48:41 Minutes
Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues Rock
Constant Readers of this magazine, imagine, if you will, a popular blues club on Saturday night: People chatter. Adult-beverage glasses clink. Plates of food clatter as harried servers bring them to their respective tables. Feet shuffle. Ill-adjusted microphones screech. Amps buzz and pop. Amid all this bustle, a band strains to present its art, but finds its beauty getting lost in the other, detracting kind of “atmosphere”. The problem? “There is too much going on,” as a friend of yours truly recently said about an Internet photo. Such is the case with Dutch blues-rock artist Han Uil and his third album, Lawless Local Heroes. Even though its high-octane energy never lets up, it’s impossible to focus on any one aspect: vocals, guitar, or any of the background instruments. Naturally, it’s meant to be listened to as a whole, not just its individual parts. Still, the vibe on these twelve original tracks is one of chaos scarcely held in check, yearning to burst free. “Blues rock” is one of the loosest descriptors of this kind of music, but here, it must suffice.
Han’s website reveals: “Han Uil (born August 8, 1976) is a Dutch musician and record producer for his solo albums. He is best known as frontman for the bands Antares and Seven Day Hunt and as songwriter/singer/guitarist for the studio project TumbleTown (a collaboration with Aldo Adema). In 2006 he released his debut solo album Alone, and in 2010 the well-received second studio album Dark in Light. Han started writing songs in the mid-nineties. Gaining experience as a singer-songwriter by recording two acoustic solo albums on and old 4-track (unofficially released under the moniker Purple Shadow) and playing lead guitar in a couple of indie bands.”
Along with lead vocalist/guitarist Han on Lawless Local Heroes are Erik Laan on Hammond organ; Eric Healing on saxophone; Esther Ladiges on backing vocals; Sander Zoer on drums; and guest star Aldo Adema on guitar, bass guitar, and keyboard for two tracks (3 and 4).
The following song is the most focused, and the catchiest, of Han’s offering to the blues Force:
Track 05: “Ring Thing” – More often than not, our drug of choice as a society is perfectly legal: digital technology. It hooks us so hard and fast that some of us think we can never go back. We’ve got to have our “Ring Thing”: “Here I am, walking down the street. I can’t keep my eyes off my tiny screen. And when I sit across, it’s like you’re not there. There’s only one thing at which I stare.” Esther Ladiges provides smooth, harmonious background vocals. Erik Laan’s Hammond is at once upbeat and eerie. Are cell phones sucking our brain-blood, like Dracula?
The raw, unpolished sound of Han Uil and his posse will appeal to party-and-bar-goers for sure, and also throngs at live festivals. For other blues fans, however, he might pack too much of a chaotic, post-modern rock wallop to merit a spot on their playlists.
Lawless Local Heroes takes no prisoners, on vocals or instrumentation!