Malaya Blue ‘Bourbon Street’ (Mad Ears) 3/5

Malaya-Blue.jogBritish blues has traditionally been the reserve of men, but thankfully this domination has been broken in recent years with the arrival of several excellent vocalists and musicians and Malaya Blue, who hails from Doncaster, is merely the latest addition. In general she focuses on blues-rock with a distinctive crossover feel and throughout the ambiance is soulful with the instrumental solos never too overbearing. The all original compositions are evenly shared between lead guitarist Mick Simpson and multi-instrumentalist Andy Littlewood. On the intro to ‘Forgiveness’ the sound of B.B. King is conjured up while on ‘Bitter Moon’ the Chess and Stax labels are paid gentle homage to with the inclusion of some tasty horns courtesy of the MEP collective who perform throughout and have been clearly influenced by the Memphis Horns. The title track has a definite US blues feel with warm instrumental accompaniment from Simpson on guitar. Arguably one of the strongest songs is ‘Bluesville UK’ and this old-school 1950s approach complete with horns best suits Malaya Blue’s voice. Variety is the order of the day on ‘Lost Girl’ which fuses blues and reggae beats while there is a potential pop crossover on the catchy riff-laden ‘Guilty’ which impresses with its use of piano vamp and horns. Included on the labum is a new version of a song, Lady sings the blues’ that Malaya Blue recorded with Mockingbird Hill and became a number one pop chart hit in 2013. Here the new interpretation is pared down to the bone. In general a pretty good stab at vocal blues. Tim Stenhouse