Based in London, England, the Mustangs latest recording has some tenuous connections to the world of blues music. One track features a slide guitar while others use Derek Kingaby’s rudimentary harp licks as accents. With nine previous releases under their belts, the band has honed their sound to a polished sheen, giving each track a lush soundscape.
The ballad “Beautiful Sleeper” starts off as a slow blues, then steadily transforms into more of a pop tune, with only guitarist Adam Norsworthy’s guitar providing a link back to the blues world. “Just The Way It Is” sports a rolling rhythm from drummer Jon Bartley and some smooth acoustic guitar picking. Ben McKeown’s driving bass is the foundation for “Saturday Night,” a power pop tune that probably would have been a radio hit forty years ago. The four members show off their vocal skills on “Cry No More,” a brief acapella vocal excursion that mixes work song and gospel elements. Ringing guitar chords behind Norsworthy’s minimal slide guitar work push him to lay down a strong vocal on “Hiding From The Rain”.
The guitar intro on “Fingerprints” sounds like it was borrowed from “My Sweet Lord”. The cut finds Norsworthy lamenting a broken heart while “Because It’s Time” and “What Lies Within” introduce some country elements to the band’s sound while staying true to their contemporary rock approach. “Vinegar Fly” has a tougher sound with Kingaby’s harp cutting through the tight arrangement. The band incorporates a familiar blues progression into “Save My Soul,” as Norsworthy catalogs his shortcomings in an attempt to gain redemption.
“One Way Ticket” opens with a lush acoustic interlude behind Norsworthy’s delicate singing, echoed by his slide guitar once the band joins in. The band is at their best on “From Somewhere To Nowhere,” a meandering folk ballad sparked by a brief guitar solo and the group vocal on the chorus. Norsworthy switches to piano on “How Short The Stay.” another brief, moody piece that closes the recording with a tolling bell.
There may be some alternate universe where the Mustangs might be considered a blues band. Or perhaps this style is what is accepted in the U.K. as blues these days. What they do, they do quite capably. Instrumental solos are not the focus, kept brief in favor of the vocal presence and ensemble playing. But what they do likely falls well short of having enough blues content to satisfy many of the Blues Blast Magazine readership.