Vintage Trouble – The Bomb Shelter Sessions

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Review by Ian Savage

It would be slightly optimistic to call it a ‘revival’, but 2013 certainly isn’t the worst year in living memory for fans of blues music. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a ‘my baby done and left me’ cliché 12-bar in one of this year’s major releases, but should you like your blues a little more funk, jazz, roots or soul-infused, the world’s your oyster. The Bomb Shelter Sessions aims to give you Vintage Trouble‘s spin on the genre.

Formed in Chicago a mere three years ago, this four-piece were pushed into the UK market early, a storming ‘Later…With Jools Holland’ appearance cementing their reputation. A whirlwind 2011-12 (Classic Rock’s ‘Best New Band’, Sundance Festival, touring with Brian May) saw them go from strength to strength, and this album marks their debut release this side of the Atlantic.

It doesn’t disappoint. Ty Taylor’s voice is a thing of wonder, slipping between throaty Robert Plant-isms and sultry Otis Redding-esque evocations at will over co-founder Nalle Colt’s equally versatile guitar work. To term Vintage Trouble a ‘blues band’ does them a disservice – between rocking opener ‘Blues Hand-Me-Down’ and downbeat closer ‘Run Outta You’ Vintage Trouble run the gamut of dirty bar blues, authentic soul and out-and-out balladry (witness ‘You Better Believe It’, ‘Gracefully’ and ‘It’s Not Alright by Me’ respectively). If the label ‘R&B’ hadn’t been hideously misappropriated over the last decade or so, this could be held up as a shining example of how Sam & Dave could be doing it in the new millennium.

The bonus tracks are worth having, though certainly not indispensable; ‘Pelvis Pusher’ cries out for some horns to flesh out the Blues Brothers-style upbeat rhythm, and the live version of ‘Total Strangers’ only really serves to show how much studio tightening can improve a band.

For any fan of modern (actual) rhythm & blues, ‘Bomb Shelter Sessions’ is pretty much a must-have, if you don’t have it already. For the dabbler in blues or soul music, buy it and listen with a more well-versed friend who probably got it on the day it came out (should you be lucky enough to have one); he or she will be able to guide you to where Vintage Trouble got their influences from, and you’ll emerge with a great grounding in real R&B alongside a great VT album.

8 out of 10

Vintage Trouble – Bomb Shelter SessionsTrack listing:

  1. Blues Hand Me Down
  2. Still And Always Will
  3. Nancy Lee
  4. Gracefully
  5. You Better Believe It
  6. Not Alright By Me
  7. Nobody Told Me
  8. Jezzebella
  9. Total Strangers
  10. Run Outta You

Bonus:

  1. Pelvis Pusher
  2. Total Stranger (live)

 

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