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Bywater Call Bywater Call
Album: Bywater Call
Label: Gypsy Soul
Tracks: 10

Canadian Bywater Call are a solid, top down, cruising towards a distant horizon Blues Soul Band. Meghan Parnell's voice is infused with the velvet growl of Joan Osborne, Janis Joplin and Joe Cocker. Behind her Bywater Call the band are a tight funky monster locked to the beat. "Arizona" opens with Dave Barnes' expansive Ry Cooder, Chris Rea guitar, skipping to a fugging keyboard and brass beat with Parnell testifying over the top. "Forgive" has that Blues Brothers beat and some wonderfully tight playing from the band. "Talking Backwards" is bar room piano jangles, dirty electric guitar and Meghan's roaring blues vocals. Listen out for the superb RnB saxophone from Julian Nalli while Parnell really lets rip. "Bring Me Down" marries that smouldering desert guitar to some Miles Davis BITCHES BREW keys and a slower burning vocal. High octane or gospel crooning Meghan has it covered with the band on this slower longer stately track. "Over and Over" balances smooth with passages that are James Brown funky. With a wonderfully alluring vocal "Hometown" is another slower song that smoulders with tension, falling away to some divine solo voice. "Walk On By", with its slow tempo burn and its retro mike vocal brings a Amy Winehouse, Brittany Howard or Imelda May croon to the blues on what is one of the strongest tracks on the album. A stand out for Meghan's vocal and the fiery guitar she draws out of Barnes. "Swing Low" by comparison begins as a sweet acoustic delta or folk blues. Again the stars are Meghan's smouldering vocal and Dave's guitar with the band building beautifully around them, the jazzy keyboard swells and brass fills are another final surprise on the fade.

This is a strong album. It works as steamy dance music and it's a fine soundtrack to a charged intimate slow dance. Bywater Call also work turned up loud on a valve amp, testifying, as you slump on a sofa, looking at the world through a half-filled whisky glass. The cover is understated with a tattoo like bird, sun image, the music is muscular and full with a smile on its face and a spring in its step.

Marc Higgins