25 November 2017

Son of Dave - Music for Cop Shows

Son of Dave…...That is a name that I have not heard in an awfully long time.  The first time I was introduced to the music of Benjamin Darvill, aka Son of Dave, was at a gig at The Cluny in Newcastle.  I was took to the gig by one of my friends who had seen him before, just being told to expect the unexpected.  The stage set was minimal, then a man came out in a hat, sunglasses, a suit that could have done with an iron and sounded like he’d been smoking all his life.  He started playing his harmonica slowly, looping his harmonica playing, recording his stomps, creating a sound with a load of effect peddles and it was a jaw dropping performance.  I went back to see him a few times, each one was just as unique as the first time, but I ended up missing a few performances, I lost track of what was happening.  So, when I got an offer to review his new album, I jumped at the chance.  I wanted to see what has changed, if there has been a progression to his sound, had he developed a rave sound? (sarcasm).  But most of all, I just wanted to hear that blues tone once more.  So, how does Music for Cop Shows stand up?

01 – Get A Strutt On

“Get A Strutt On” opens this album with a feeling that the night is young, the suit is sharp, and everything is full of mystery.  It has been a while since I heard anything new from Son of Dave, and there have been a few changes. There is a full band in the studio, not just a few musicians or even just Son of Dave, so this changes the sound of this act.  It effects the feeling behind the music, which is sort of unsettling at first as that is not what I was used to with Son of Dave, but it’s not a bad sound.  Once I was over that initial surprise, then you can appreciate the song, which is a loose and cool opening track to this album.

02 – Daddy was a Wolf

“Daddy was a Wolf” is a song that I wish was out on Halloween, it would have used this for my Halloween show on the radio show I work for.  It is a fun number, it has a funky bass line and it is one that will cause dancing to erupt at a moment’s notice, then is all you could as for with a blues number.  It is short, to the point and above all – fun.

03 – Six Weeks

The start of “Six Weeks” is what I am used to with Son of Dave, just one man, his harmonicas and very basic percussion.  But it is doesn’t last, and the full band come in, but there is nothing wrong with that.  In fact, it sounds great, this song feels like it is designed for the road, it is a journeyman’s song and it is one of the defining moments of this record.  In fact, it's my favourite song on this album, it's a brilliant number!

04 – Pow Pow

“Pow Pow” is Son of Dave with a pop infliction, a blues man who is having fun in the studio and has created a song that is made for dancing.  There is no deep meaning to this one, it is for getting people moving and it does its job admirable, what is there not to like here!

05 – Caledonian Street

“Caledonian Street” removes the energy from the album a little, just so the listener is not spent within the first half of the album.  There is something lovely about this one, it has a mournful feeling to it, with a heavy heart in the mix.  However, I will also add that I didn’t connect with it as easy as other numbers on the record.  It makes you work for your reward, so tread carefully on this one.

06 – Rattlesnake

“Rattlesnake” on the other hand, is a much better song.  It’s another slow number, one that is built up slowly, mainly around the bass to be honest.  The harmonica might take the praise at times, the bass on here is brilliant!  The more I listen to this, the better it becomes, it's a stunning song.

07 – Blues Organ

“Blues Organ” brings the party back to the album, with a (mostly) instrumental track that has more energy that your average hyperactive teenager on red bull.  There is a great duelling piece between the harmonica and the guitar, it’s one of those songs that will keep everyone happy.

08 – Mojo Wawa

“Mojo Wawa” is a Blues heavy number, even on a blues centred album.  It’s a good number, the ranting lyrics are fascinating, and the music is of a high quality.  But it’s another song that I had to work at, there is nothing instant about this one.  But I cannot deny the quality or craftmanship behind the song, the passion in the performance is there for all to see.

09 – Hey Aye

“Hey Aye” mixes some roots sounds to this album, giving Son of Dave another dimension to his sound.  I love the vocals on this one, it has a rich texture, a beautiful sound and it’s the song I have thought about the most since I first heard it.  I would be lying if I said it was my favourite, but it’s the one that I keep mulling over.  I think it’s too early to give a verdict on this one, but it’s one I would say is worth investigating, possible approaching brilliant.

10 – Marching & Whistling

So how, “Marching & Whistling” has combined the Blues of Son of Dave, the sound of a marching band and the feeling of Talking Heads all into one crazy assed tune.  I cannot describe this song in any other way then bizzaro!  It must be heard to be believed, but it’s designed to get people moving, that is something that it should achieve with relevant ease.

If you’ve ever experienced Son of Dave before, there is nothing here that will surprise you at all.  Music for Cop Shows is a fantastic blues record, one that showcases all the positives about Son of Dave.  However, as I have mentioned before, there are differences to when I last encountered the man.  There is that fantastic harmonica performance, the centre piece of any Son of Dave song, but there is a full band here.  I hear a bass, different percussion, an organ and it gives the man and his sound a slightly different edge.  But ultimately, it still comes back to the man and his harmonica, which is the focal point of this act anyway.  The songs are of a high quality, with a fantastic array of instruments on show (not just including the harmonica).  The slow build of the songs that you have from the live shows is missing though, as everything is already preloaded in the studio, which is a bit of a shame for me.  But to focus on that would be childish and an exercise in futility.  Sometimes you just need to listen to an album without being a critic, and this is what I have done with Music for Cop Shows.  To argue against the addition of extra layers is useless, it gives this man (and by extention, this album) another dimension and I love that sort of thing.  Does it always work?  Well, I would say sort of.  There are times when less might have been more, but you never know until you try something.  Whilst it's not as jaw-dropping as O2, Music for Cop Shows worth checking out.  If you are wanting to listen to a great blues album with something a little different, you could do a hell of a lot worse than this one.  I would also recommend going to see his live show, he is a great performer and it will be one of the best you have seen in your life.

7.5 out of ten – This is good and worth checking out

Top track – Six Weeks

You can purchase Music for Cop Shows on Amazon here.

You can visit the Son of Dave website here, where you can also purchase Music for Cop Shows.

You can purchase Music for Cop Shows on Bandcamp here.

You can follow the activities of Son of Dave on Facebook here.

You can stream Music for Cop Shows on Spotify here.

You can stream Music for Cop Shows on Deezer here.

You can stream Music for Cop Shows on Tidal here.

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