Riff Diamond – Sapphire | Album Review

Riff Diamond – Sapphire

Riff Trolls Management


11 tracks

Hailing from Northern Ireland, Riff Diamond is a rocking, young blues band with a big sound.  Becky Baxter (Vocals) and Conal “Tone Monster” O’Donoghue (Guitar) met up online in a Join My Band forum and began playing in 2014.  They were 16 and 14 respectively.  Drummer John McNulty heard of the sessions via a friend and joined in the fun, and then they “found” bassist Shauna McGarrity later in the year who was an immediate fit for them.  They enjoyed doing covers and began writing some songs and were picked up to open for some larger acts, so they decided to officially become a band.  The band was involved in writing 9 of the 11 tracks and cover “Whole Lotta Love” and “Hey Joe.”  The songs are Janis Joplin-esque heavy rock songs with blues influences with a power trio backing a singer.

“Shadow Man” is a driving rocker with huge vocals by Baxter.  “Masquerade” is a mid-tempo rocker, like a slower Gracie Slick/Jefferson Airplane sort of cut. “Diamond Heart” is a down tempo rock anthem that builds from lower keyed guitar solos to high powered vocals. “29 Days” is a rock ballad of sorts with Baxter holding back and thoughtful fills by the band.  “Kick in the Teeth” picks it up and is more of an in your face rock style with a moderate groove and big vocals that builds as it progresses.  Next is “Phoenix,” more up tempo and with a big guitar attack.

The first cover is the Willie Dixon/Led Zeppelin song. The instrumental parts begin as straight up Led Zep with some effects and the vocals lack the distortion and just feature Becky’s powerful voice with some echo on the choruses.  The solos they go off in a semi-psychedelic style.  Conal’s brother Dan appears on harp, too. “Count Me Out” is a restrained rocker followed by the band letting loose on “I Promise You.”  The final original cut is “Love Hate.” It’s got somewhat of a tribal beat and original approach to the melodic lines. There is lots of guitar here, too. “Hey Joe” closes the set; the guitar intro is familiar territory.  The harp returns for some interesting effects behind the vocals, playing an alternate melody.  The guitar solo is almost funky and the harp plays behind that, too, as it does throughout.

These kids/young adults are a great little rock band with roots in the late 1960’s sound.  They, like many bands today, try to classify themselves as a blues or blues rock band, but what is presented here is essentially all rock.  It’s well done, but it’s not really blues.  I enjoyed the album as it was.  The vocals are solid and stratospheric, the guitar is excellent and the backline is tight.  The original songs hearken back to my era as a teen and are interesting and well crafted.  Not a bad rock band, but don’t expect too much (if any) blues if you pick this one up.

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