John FairhurstJohn Fairhurst
Album: Saltwater
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 10

John Fairhust's album, Saltwater, must be the most embarrassing CD I've ever come across. Let me explain. You need to understand that it is physically impossible to listen to John Fairhust without moving some body part or another and that I happen to spend a lot of time listening to music in the car. This is a bad combination. Now, if this was polite, lightly-tap-the-steering-wheel-as-you-drive-along music, all would be well - but it isn't. This is a magnificent thumping wall of electric blues. Waiting at traffic lights, you find your whole upper body just has to move to the infectious rhythm. At his point, young children on the pavement outside start to point and have to be shushed by their mothers. Other drivers shoot you looks that are clearly meant to convey their belief that you should not be allowed behind the wheel of a motor vehicle and, preferably, not be allowed out at all without supervision.

So what is it that makes the album so irresistible? Underpinning the sound is Toby Murray's rock solid but imaginative drumming. This is backed up by Tim Loudon and Luke Barter on bass. On top of this sharply precise bedrock of rhythm there are colourful, sinuous strata of harmonica, piano and John Fairhust's guitar, played with enormous flair but always with a meticulousness that compliments the underling rhythm and drives the music along.

Weaving through this texture is John Fairhurst's 40-a-day voice. This is as good a blues voice as you're going find on this side of the Atlantic. Whether he's growling his way through 'Breakdown' or 'Dance in the Pines' or bringing the lyrics to life in 'Black Cat' or the title track, 'Saltwater', his voice is perfectly matched to the lyrics. In same way that the rhythm is sharply articulated, there's a clarity about the singing, despite the laid back sound, that points to some real vision about the shape and meaning of each song.

The band is starting to gather some real recognition. They have played at this year's Glastonbury Festival and have been gigging tirelessly throughout the year. If they are anything like as good live as they are on this album, then this recognition is well deserved. Personally, I'm keeping an eye out for any gigs they're playing in and around Derbyshire.

This CD has fast become a favourite of mine so, if you notice me sitting in traffic, just smile and give me a wave.

Tim Goodwin