Paul Lamb & The Detroit Breakdown – Ready, Fire, Aim


Review by Will Harris

EE Records

Few artists have such a rich musical heritage to choose from than those that call Detroit their hometown: there’s the blues of John Lee Hooker, the sizzling high energy rock of the MC5 and The Stooges, and of course the endless list of soul and funk acts championed by Motown Records. From this broad tapestry over the years six-stringer Paul Lamb has woven his own particular brand of swaggering, cool blues-rock, but never without a strong sense of groove; with his fourth album, Lamb and co bravely delve into the music of Detroit groups like Funkadelic to re-emerge with a funkier, reinvigorated version of his established sound.

And a brave move it might be; not every Lamb fan will approve of the new direction, but Ready, Fire, Aim is the work of a serious artist broadening his palette and challenging himself, which is always going to involve risks. And chief songwriter Lamb has really worked to make this a different album: there are the female soul vocals prevalent throughout, wah-wah guitars all over the place and a real energising get-up-and-dance vibe pervading most of the record. As a result of the new sound, the whole band has risen to the challenge too: drummer Layla Hall pulls off some tight fills and infectious beats, and Joey Spina lays down some inventive slap bass on tracks like ‘Bring It On’. It works for Lamb too, whose distinctive vocals, growlier than ever, are the perfect match for the deep funk.

Opener ‘When The Crown Hit The Ground’ provides an easy in for existing Lamb fans with its grooving pentatonic riff, but the group really take off on the livelier tracks, such as ‘High Decibel Call To Arms’, an incredibly danceable funk number with added rock power, and ‘There Goes The Neighbourhood’, a speed-injected riot that wouldn’t go amiss on James Brown’s setlist. They try out some new things with the eastern opening of ‘Piece In The Middle East’ (which strangely recalls Alice In Chains), before breaking back into familiar territory, while four tracks see Lamb take to much softer territory. ‘Worn Out Love Song’ is an enjoyable example of a steady, stripped-down rock ballad, but its title does somewhat subject weaker tracks like ‘That Smile’ – with lyrics like “I crawled to safety in your arms / Where I knew there was nothing to bring me harm” – to some irony.

Elsewhere, Lamb displays a keen desire to cover topics less conventional for the genre. Though we have the songs about wild girls (such as ‘Queen Charlene’), he also decries the state of society in ‘High Decibel Call To Arms’, calls out corruption on ‘Guilty’ and takes a shot at questionable foreign policy in ‘Piece In The Middle East’. Expanding musical horizons, a healthy lyrical curiosity and musicianship that’s sounding more accomplished than ever all point to one thing: Paul Lamb & The Detroit Breakdown are advancing, whoever likes it or not.

Paul Lamb – Ready Fire Aim7 out of 10

Track listing:

  1. When The Crown Hit The Ground (Ode To The Warnow)
  2. Bring It On
  3. Worn Out Love Song
  4. High Decibel Call To Arms
  5. Queen Charlene
  6. Piece In The Middle East
  7. That Smile
  8. There Goes The Neighbourhood
  9. Guilty
  10. Feelin’ Young
  11. No Pressure, No Diamond
  12. If Only Goodbye