Last Chance Saloon – Self-Titled | Album Review

lastchancesalooncdLast Chance Saloon – Self-Titled

Mad Ears Productions

CD: 10 Songs; 41:07 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues Rock, Contemporary Electric Rock

Is the “free market” really all that free? Economists have been debating that point for centuries. Ostensibly, it’s based upon people making informed and rational choices about what they buy, being “free” in a consumer sense. With that said, what will blues fans get if they buy the self-titled debut album from the UK’s Last Chance Saloon? In four words, a blues rock album. In fifteen words, an album that is almost pure rock, even though some songs contain the word “blues”. Each of the ten tracks are originals, which is a plus, but listeners won’t find anything traditional on this CD. Another quirk of the “free” market is that musicians have to balance what they want to play versus what sells. No one can please everyone all the time, but in trying to appeal to both the blues and rock audiences, the Last Chance Saloon hedges their bets.

According to the band’s website, “Their sound draws on a wide range of influences, blending rock, blues, pop and Americana, and their music has been described as ’21st century blues with hook-ridden vocals’.” The denizens of the Last Chance Saloon are Andy Littlewood on lead vocals, guitar, keyboards and bass; Mick Simpson on lead guitar; Pete Nelson on drums and percussion; and Dave Hunt on harmonica.

It’s tough to earn a living as an artist, and even tougher to get widespread recognition. Since this is their first release, the Saloon has a long journey ahead of them, but they’ve made some headway. The “News” section of their webpage reveals that they’ve been played on Get Ready to Rock! Radio, “After Midnight” with Alex Lester on BBC Radio 2, and the BBC Introducing Show. What will help them earn national and international fame, besides polishing their craft, is concentrating exclusively on the blues. They’ve got talent, for sure, but what they need is focus.

The one song that will appeal to even the purest of purists is solid number four:

Track 04: “Fistful of Mojo” – Metaphorically, this track’s title describes what every blues band needs in order to succeed. It’s one thing to have decent vocals, and another to have more-than-decent instrumentation, but to get noticed, one has to feel the blues, and be imbued with their vibrant voodoo. “I’ve got a fistful of mojo and a skip in my step, money in my pocket and another sure bet. Got a head full of ideas, a desire for life, know how to play the system, gonna do it, do it, do it right.” Check out the music video, displaying the “mojo” in this catchy tune.

Littlewood’s vocals lie squarely in the “talk-singing” range, but they’re conversational and accessible for listeners. At a real saloon, as on this album, it’s all about camaraderie, not ambience. Its atmosphere is cordial and a bit shady.

Get ready to rock at the Last Chance Saloon!

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