Review from Dave Scott on www.Bluenight.com
This intriguing, mature, and popular band of Scottish troubadours was fermented in vintage blues, American southern rock, and 1960s psychedelia, then steeped in influences from Robert Johnson to The Rolling Stones. Their sound was subsequently distilled in a boiler of mercurial energy before the secret, final ingredient was added, namely the considerable talents of each musician. Welcome to the creation known as Safehouse.
Absolutely Live Volume 2 (Independent) opens with Moby Grapes’ “Hey Grandma”, the '60s San Francisco vibe is enhanced by aspects of the Black Crowes’ version to which charismatic singer Chris Peebles further adds his unique, gritty vocals to make it Safehouse’s own take on a classic song. “Travelling Light,” co-written by lead guitarist John Bruce introduces some sumptuous slide to complement Ali Petrie’s haunting keyboard accompaniment.
The infectious riffs of “Can’t You See,” written by Toy Caldwell of the Marshall Tucker Band, cross the boundary between country and southern rock, its dark lyrics the perfect vehicle for Peebles’ powerful, anguished vocals. Petrie and Bruce take it in turn to deliver scintillating, innovative solos, Peebles swirling in a frenzy between them in time with the dynamic peaks and troughs.
The slow burning “No Expectations” is a nod to the Stones, with Chris almost mimicking Jagger’s voice and swagger as he communicates the narrative with style and panache. Bruce’s stunning guitar work on the self-penned mid-tempo “Jayburger Boogie” shows why the veteran axeman, after over 40 years supporting the biggest names in US and UK blues, is finally achieving the recognition he deserves. Bruce is billed to appear alongside Marcus Bonfanti at this summer’s Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, a partnership which promises to be a major highlight of the week. “Breathe In” is a Chris Peebles composition and worthy of his exquisite vocal delivery complemented by Petrie’s precise, fluent and innovative keys in this beautifully arranged song.
Grateful Dead made Bonnie Dobson’s post-Apocalyptic folk rock song, “Morning Dew,” famous, however, the faster pace and complex rhythm patterns from drummer Sean Scott and bassist Andrew Stirling give this interpretation an edgier slant. The band’s original, hard-rocking anthemic “Coming Alive” has the spontaneity of a jam session whilst retaining an underlying structure and introducing elements of light and shade. The atmosphere changes with the gentle rockabilly start to “Pay Day,” the five musicians in perfect harmony and exuding enjoyment, the crescendos kicking in later.
The funky rhythms, jazz-infused keys and smouldering vocals on Sonny Boy Williamson II’s “One Way Out “are a tribute to The Allman Brothers, providing a fitting finale to a show which really needs to be experienced live to be believed.
--- Dave Scott
Review from Mark Ede manager of Jo Harman
The best Blues Rock band I've heard so far in the UK are this lot... by a country mile. http://safehouse.me.uk/Safehouse/index.htm (and don't worry about the dodgy website!). If they can write like they play and sound (what sounds!!) they could be a Scottish version of the Black Crowes (but better). Why oh why haven't I been told about this mob in Classic Rock Blues, Blues in Britain, Blues Matters or heard them on any blues radio shows? Or seen them at any festivals other than sharing a bill with Jo Harman at Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival