'Diff'rent Gravy' is the fifth album from Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective who have been honing their sound over the past eight years or so of gigging to become a melting pot of "Roots, Blues, Rock, Americana, Country, you name it".
The current line up features Jamie Williams on vocals and guitar, Nick Garner, harp, Dave Milligan, guitar, Dave's son Jake on bass and Paul Madden drums. Apparently, Jamie is also a prolific songwriter with over 2,000 to his name, so finding the 11 originals for this album shouldn't have been a problem for him!
'Little Black Book' rattles in on chunky drums, bass, harp and riffs aplenty. The main line reminds me of Ocean Colour Scenes 'Riverboat Song' but there's lots going on underneath, particularly the brittle, slightly discordant sounding electric guitar licks while Jamie barks the words out with his sturdy, lived in voice.
'I Don't Wanna Break My Baby's Heart' is another guitar driven band track with Jamie's vocal moving into Tom Petty territory, whereas 'One Man Mission To Mars' is a slower, almost Cajun sounding affair.
'Lonesome Howl From The Heart' is good old fashioned bar room blues which is followed by the acoustic, rootsy 'Godsend' for which Jamie adopts his nasally, Bob Dylan type tone..
'Baddass And Lazy' is back to the riff driven blues and boasts some particularly fine harp before 'Reaching For The Stars' rings the changes musically, all space and atmosphere before diving into the overdriven chorus. For me this track features Jamie's most authentic vocal and seems to sit in his most natural range, which really carries the song through in style.
'Saved' is as good, if not better and shows the band in understated mode and although it's another more acoustic based number it still has a strong rhythmic pulse, and in both feel and tempo put me in mind of Bob Dylan's 'What Was It You Wanted'.
'Bastard County' is jaunty, modern country, 'Voodoo Man' more bar room rhythm and blues and the album closer 'Understand' shuffles along sweetly with Jamie again in Bob Dylan mode.
I'm not sure if this album was recorded live in the studio but it really does have a lovely, loose organic feel that I imagine is as near as dammit to seeing Jamie Williams And The Roots Collective in a venue nearby! The songs are catchy melodically and Jamie has an ear for a hook but could, I think, sharpen up his lyrics a bit here and there, particularly in the more obviously blues based numbers. The other minor criticism is around some of his vocal mannerisms which tend to be a little derivative and occasionally sound like a parody of Bob Dylan, which probably isn't a good thing. However, as a collective they are rock solid throughout and the good stuff is very good, particularly 'Reaching For The Stars' and 'Saved' which for me showcase the best of the band, Jamie's writing and voice.
All in all, great fun and at the risk of stating the blindingly obvious, this album belted out live should be a treat indeed.
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