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Clare Free - Dust and Bones
Funky Mama Records 1012
Total Time 40:21 - 10 Tracks
Formal release 23 March 2012
Clare Free and her band (Dave Evans, bass; Matt Allen, Rhythm and additional guitars; and, Pete Hedley, drums) have been going from strength to strength. In 2011, Clare was the winner of the best acoustic performance accolade in the WRC* Awards and her song “Funky Mama’s Kitchen Blues” was a nominee for the song of the year in the 2011 British Blues Awards. Clare’s debut CD, Be Who You Are, was followed by an EP, How It Is, which was given away as a free (no pun) download, and both those outings were well received by critics.
Clare is a fine guitar player with a touch that can move from shredding to subtlety in a second, but always under prefect control. She is a fine singer with a smoky voice and an occasional growl in her throat, which can add a very sexy touch to it all.
Clare’s maximum strength however, comes from her song writing. In live gigs she does do some covers (Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean by Ruth Brown is a fave) but here and on all her recorded work, it is wall to wall originals.
Once, a couple of years ago I chided Clare over a perceived lack of right-on blues in her music, some of which had a noticeable ‘country’ tinge; no problem of that kind here.
The album comes with ten tracks, and as behoves a songwriter, proud of her work, the lyrics of all the songs in a nice CD booklet. The songs range from the opener Can’t Slow Down, a delightful whinge about the pace of life in contemporary society, to Little Miss Jealousy about the green eyed emotion that can be so destructive in relationships. The latter song is a pointer to the theme of most of Clare’s writing…the effects of events and other people, on emotional ties. As with all the tracks on this CD it comes with some exemplary guitar work that has matured and expanded significantly in the last few years.
The title track is outstanding. A bass guitar underpinning, with a wonderful damped-bass descending figure as the hook, the song is about a collapsing relationship, where a cheating partner makes it all collapse into dust and bones. The axe work here is nicely restrained most of the time but breaks out with, a vengeance, in a solo that reminds me of a mix of Robert Cray and JJ Cale. Fabulous!
One more song deserves a mention and that is Creepy. This one, which comes with a kind of Creamlike opening riff, is about the experience of being the victim of a stalker. “You’re so creepy, what’s it gonna take to make you back away from me”. A tremendous song, with a nice guitar break. Deserves a lot of air play.
All in all this is an excellent outing by Clare and her band and comes strongly recommended.
*(shhh, WRC stands for Wrinkly Rockers Club)
Reviewer Ian McKenzie lives in England. He is the editor of Blues In The South (www.bluesinthesouth.com) a monthly flier providing news, reviews, a gig guide and all kinds of other good stuff, for people living and going to gigs along the south coast of England. Ian is also a blues performer (see www.myspace.com/ianmckenzieuk) and has two web-cast regular blues radio shows. One on www.phonic.FM in Exeter (Wednesdays: 1pm Eastern/ 12 noon Central), the second on KCOR – Kansas City Online Radio (on Fridays at 1pm Eastern/ 12 noon Central).