Mr. Shingles – Green in Blue
CD: 12 Songs, 41:00 Minutes
Styles: Blues Covers, Ensemble Blues, Jazz-and-Soul-Influenced Blues
The cover art of Green in Blue, the debut studio album of Barcelona blues band Mr. Shingles, features a series of black-and-white snapshots laid out, as it were, in vertical shingles. As expected, one of the shingles is tinted green, and the next one blue. Artsy? Yes. Eclectic? Definitely. Mr. Shingles has a lot of flair, especially on instrumentation, but it may be too jazzy for some. Also, its perky mishmash of genres, although entertaining, doesn’t bode well for meat-and-potatoes purists. This is coffeehouse blues, nightclub blues, pleasing to the ear in a low-key atmosphere. Lead vocalist and guitar player Brian O’Mahony ) may not be Michael Bublé, but then again, MB doesn’t sing the blues. There’s no denying the passion in either musician – one a relative newcomer, one a veteran. Both are wholly dedicated to their art. On five straight covers, four traditional tunes with new arrangements by the band, and three originals, they present a mixed bag. Not bad for their first studio album; they mostly tour.
Mr. Shingles was founded in 2015 with the purpose of covering legendary blues artists such as B.B. King, Otis Rush, Magic Sam, Howlin’ Wolf and John Mayall. From this classic blues base, they have developed their sound, mixing blues and swing with Latin beats and touches of jazz and gospel, such as on the opening track, “When Love Comes to Town.” The band defines Green in Blue as a coming together of African-American and Irish cultures, a compilation of songs by Irish artists and arrangements of folk and blues classics with some fresh compositions thrown in, played in the electric blues style of the 1960’s. Mr. Shingles has played at Barcelona’s most renowned venues: Harlem Jazz Club, El Paraigua, Sala Monasterio or the MEAM as well as festivals such as Ahalia Festival de Igualada, Inauditus Festival, Ciclo Blues and Sons and Figueres Summer Festival.
The lineup of Mr. Shingles consists of Brian O’Mahony on guitar and lead vocals; Dara Luskin on bass and vocals; Xavi Tomás on drums and vocals, and Stephanie Jaïs on keys and vocals.
The closing track of the album is the best one, far and away, and might make one reminisce.
Track 12: “Being Green” – Frank Sinatra, Kermit the Frog and Big Bird may have done it best, but this colorful classic is just as vivid from Mr. Shingles. My favorite part? “When green is all there is to be, it could make you wonder why. But why wonder, why wonder? I am green and it’ll do fine. It’s beautiful. And I think it’s what I want to be.” Smooth vocals, smooth instruments.
In terms of “being green” on the studio scene, Mr. Shingles shines bright, and with refinement, they’ll be as lush as emeralds. Green in Blue is a commendable effort from a quirky quartet.