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Blues, Country and more – the musical borders of the new album, "Midnight Call" from The Fran McGillivray Band, exist only around the edges. In the center of things, are the songs, co-written by British musicians and songwriters, Fran McGillivray and Mike Burke, which can almost be described as musical short stories.
Right away, one is aware of a soft melancholy. The opening track, "Hard Working Woman" already puts you in a "Midnight Mood", as it were. It certainly isn't about "party time" or a put-on, false happiness. Rather, the more often dark and somewhat cloudy reality found in the songs of Fran and Mike. Songs about love and regret, missed chances, the toughness of the daily grind, or the wait for the call that pulls you out of your routine in the middle of the night.
Like on their recording, "Some Luck" the guitar playing of Mike Burke is the musical center point. Sometimes Jazzy, sometimes with a pure Country sound or also playing Blues lines. One hears in a second how tight McGillivray and Burke play together and have understood each other musically for many years. The singer, with her bass, together with drummer Roger Nunn, lays down a very solid foundation for the songs. Sometimes a Blues harp or a Hammond organ are also present on the recordings, but, for the most part, the Trio itself is all that is needed for the musical performances on the songs that McGillivray and Burke have written for the album.
Someone looking strictly for a Blues album, would maybe be disappointed. But if you are on the lookout for forcefully impressive songs, full of restrained passion, which are performed with musical versatility, then you should absolutely check out this record.
Nathan Norgel Wasser Prawda Germany
"Midnight Call" is the new album by The Fran McGillivray Band, to be launched in London on 7 January (at Brook's Blues Bar, new location at The Seven Dials Club, www.brooksbluesbar.co.uk ). After two albums as a duo with a rather spare sound, the band returns as a trio and now comprises Fran McGillivray (vocals, flute, bass), Mike Burke (guitars, mandolin, mandola, vocals) and Roger Nunn (drums, percussion, djembe, vocals). This line-up is augmented with a number of renowned guests, namely Alan Glen (harmonica), Mike Paice (sax) and Martin Smith (steel guitar, Hammond), resulting in a more swinging, fuller sound. As expected though, The Fran McGillivray Band doesn't come anywhere near the current blues sounds of wailing guitars and we are all the happier for that. With ten originals out of eleven tunes, Burke and McGillivray have repeated and fine tuned what they do best: gentle and loving blues with feeling and emotion without getting sentimental, and their are messages nicely wrapped up so they are bound to sink deeper ('Blood On Your Hands'). Like before, the band have avoided the blues templates that have become commonplace and often boring, reaching back to their jazzier times as So Long Angel, adding a twist of folk here and country there. The steel guitar on 'Midnight Call' pushes the song towards country, but that's just fine. Burke and McGillivray are fine song-writers who love the blues and expand its possibilities rather than sticking to a limiting formula. (EB)
Click here to read the Bluesdoodles review:
Freshly released in January this is the blues/folk/rootsy trio's follow up to Some Luck. Midnight Call comprises of eleven songs, ten of which were written by Fran and Mike. For those a tad unfamiliar with these folks, they are: Fran McGillivray on vocals and bass, Mike Burke on guitar and vocals, glued together by percussionist Roger Nunn. All play a multitude of varying musical accompaniment too, so plenty of colour and pastiche here. Adding to this pallet are those well known troubadours: on harmonica Alan Glen, Mike Paice on sax and Martin Smith on Hammond. Over the years the band has become well known on the circuit they inhabit and their vibrant empathy not only the live arena, but also in their material shines through on this CD.
For more information please contact Fran