27 March 2016

Driven Serious - Ballad of Bones EP

This review is focused on the latest release from North East, England alternative folk minstrels Driven Serious and their latest EP Ballad of Bones, which has just been released with a fantastic video (which I will post at the end of this review).  The band are a really nice bunch of characters and I was first introduced to them when I was part of the presenting crew on a radio show called Alternation on NE1FM (I'm still at the station on another show, but this is not the time to talk about that).  Vocalist/Guitarist Rob John Jones and double bass player Tim Packer came on the show and played live in the tiny underground studio, it was one of those moment where everything went perfect and their performances are one of the highlights of my tenure on that show.  Their debut album 'The Importance of Being Serious' is a beautiful piece of music (which was supposed to be reviewed by one of our other reviews, sadly he did not complete it) and I have been following them ever since; with this EP being their first release since 2013, it has been a long time since they have released new music, so how does this EP sound?

The opening song is "Ballad of Bones", this is not a jolly happy number by any means.  What we have here is an epiphany against the persistence of time and perceptions (at least that is how it seems to me) places on a pounding set of drums, beautiful strings, dramatic guitars, deep bass and Rob Jones giving a passionate vocal performance that is a hallmark of the Driven Serious experience.  It is as good as any of the songs from 'The Importance of Being Serious', with a great sense of drama and a bombastic approach to how folk should be performed.  The next three tracks are all live songs, the first being "Sinking Sand" which was performed live at The Cluny in Newcastle upon Tyne and has previously been unreleased.  The song reminds me a lot of The Levellers and The Wonder Stuff with a huge drop of attitude and a dark mood to proceedings.  The guitars sound a little quite in the mix in places, but overall it still a good song that is obviously going down well as noted in the applause that follows the performance.  The penultimate song is a version of "Crucifix Kiss" which was performed at The Twisted Lip, it is a slow and beautiful song which actually has a warmer tone that you sometimes only hear in live recordings.  The reflective beauty of the song is really worth the price of the EP together with "Ballad of Bones" and I also prefer this version to the original version that was on the album.  Ending the EP is a live recording of "World of Fear" which was also recorded in the Cluny, it is extended compared to the studio version with the rest of the band being introduced to the audience and there are other differences to the studio version.  It is a great performance of the song and it ends the EP on a very high note.

Overall this is a quality release from a band with a unique image, a beautiful sound and an appealing vision that should be celebrated.  I am not sure if this going to lead to another album soon or if it is just this for now; either way it is great to hear them release some new material.  The band are busy playing shows around the North East and will soon be playing the Folkish Explosion Festival in Newcastle in May, if they play near you then I would recommend going to see them - I would also recommend buying this great EP and watch the video below.

(P.S. - Thanks to Rob from Driven Serious for getting in touch and helping with the titles)

4.5 out of five - This is really good, well worth checking out

Top track - Ballad of Bones

You can purchase the Ballad of Bones EP & all of the other Driven Serious releases on their Bandcamp here.

You can purchase the Ballad of Bones EP on Amazon here.

You can visit the Driven Serious website here.

You can also follow the activities of Driven Serious on Facebook here.

You can stream the Ballad of Bones EP on Deezer here.

You can stream the Ballad of Bones EP on Spotify here.

You can stream the Ballad of Bones EP on Tidal here.

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