Federal Charm – Federal Charm


Review by Paul H Birch

Mystic Records

Featuring eleven self-penned numbers and a cover of Lowell Fulson’s ‘Reconsider’, Federal Charm are Paul Bowe and Nick Bowden on guitars, the latter also taking vocals, drummer Danny Rigg and bass player LD Morawski. They’re young, spirited and play the nu-blues with a rock attitude.

A Morse code stop-start opening gives way to fervent drum rolls flavoured with funk tipped guitar notes as ‘Gotta Give it Up’ breaks out into a blues rocker with Santana styled solo. It’s ably assisted by an organ low in the mix that guides, informs and adds flavour to the song as does the guest piano featured on the laid back rock of ‘I’m Not Gonna Beg’ – the first song of many to reference Led Zeppelin, and while I’m all for the groove and crunch that adds there are melody lines and riffs where it can becomes too obvious the direction the music is heading at times.

‘Somebody Help Me’ slows things down, and while Bowden’s voice can’t quite convey the emotional depth required for me to be concerned by his despair, I’m sure many a female fan will be, and it does feature some very nice acoustic work. ‘The Stray’ may have a pack of blues clichés running throughout it but the guys really get into this mid-paced delta blues rocker with hypnotic guitar picking, mean slide playing, crashing chords and sure-footed drumming all driving it along – it’s a song that works on the feel and interplay of the band.

‘There’s a Light’ is a rowdy bruiser take on a Hendrix style rocker and ‘Tell Your Friends’ is Zep’s The Ocean as if sung with different lyrics in a Paul Rogers style.

There’s a definite predictability to many of their song structures wherein they focus on chugging out on the chords during the verses with the guitar interplay happening either side and into the choruses. Compare that to their favourable take on ‘Reconsider’, proof that even a straight blues number has to be crafted as a composition to take it through the years as a song people will want to continue hearing.

That said, they channel The Rolling Stones in their 70s hit single prime for the hook-heavy ‘Any Other Day’ to excellent effect and ‘Too Blind to See’ wears its various influences proudly coming on like an epic while clocking in at under four minutes. Talented musicians, a good connective band, and full-on when playing live, their influences now have to be put in a drawer and their song writing skills developed further.

Federal Charm 20137 out of 10

Track listing:

  1. Gotta Give it Up.
  2. I’m Not Gonna Beg.
  3. No Money Down.
  4. Somebody Help Me.
  5. Reaction .
  6. The Stray.
  7. There’s a Light.
  8. Tell Your Friends.
  9. Reconsider.
  10. Come on Down.
  11. Any Other Day.
  12. Too Blind to See.