If you are looking for a mellow moment to wash away the grime and emotional trespass of the day then a date with The Bivouac Detectives is definitely in order. The British duo from Birmingham has just released debut album Shooting The Breeze, a twelve track seduction of acoustic rock ‘n’ roll providing chilled and often mischievous adventures for ears and imagination.
The band consists of vocalist/guitarist Norm Elliott, formerly of Norm and The Nightmarez and before that Micky & The Mutants, and bassist Mick Couch of psych/indie poppers The Oracle Project. Their union has emerged as Norm’s last band comes to a close and the Mick’s outfit releases their new single Shine A Light On You. The Bivouac Detectives has a distinctly different sound to both of those propositions yet equally fuses whispers of rockabilly instinctiveness and psych temptation into the songs which tantalise from within Shooting The Breeze. Recorded this past January and now released via Western Star Records, the album is a web of flavours colluding to present rock ‘n’ roll at its stripped down, expressive best.
With all songs penned by Norm and coloured by the united skills of both men, the album opens with Sant Amorai. Norm’s guitar instantly caresses ears with a melodic seduction, its tone and the song’s atmosphere sultry and melancholic simultaneously. It is a climate aided by wistful keys around tenderly plucked strings whilst the bass provides a slow croon in its own right, adding solemn hues to the tale being revealed by the distinctive vocals of Norm. The song borders dark country with psychedelic spicery and for four minutes plus has senses and thoughts transfixed.
The following Fine Memories brings a more folkish embrace, though yet again those emotive shadows show their magnetic faces again. An intimate reflection hugged by bass and guitar, the song serenades with a raw mesmeric charm before making way for the smiling enticement of Beyond the Planets and in turn the reflective/nostalgic commentary of Car Windscreen. The first of the two has that aural Englishness which no other land can emulate, a quaint and infectious devilment which has body and psyche bewitched whilst touring additional spices from further afield. Its successor has a sound which is almost Brit pop like in an acoustic scenery sparking thoughts of those sixties/early seventies visual dramas of real life from the streets.
That looking at the lives of those which came before across varied decades of Britain continues with the excellent Friends, King and Country, the tale of old soldiers and sacrifice. Melodies and bass hues cast a creative theatre which is shaped further by the striking narrative of lyrics and vocals, it all inviting ears and thoughts to be potently involved in an aural archive of life.
I’m Fallin’ In Love has the listener entranced yet again with its fifties rock ‘n’ roll croon. Vocals and melodies offer a cheeky twang to their exploits which can only be greedily devoured whilst the bass resonates with its own just as captivating tempting. The best track on the album it has the old school innocence and poetic simplicity which wrapped many a Buddy Holly proposal whilst Wilberforce Montgomery next, returns to that English folk bred persuasion of earlier songs and explores the fictional/real? tale of a soul earning his deserved attention only after a poor and unrewarded life has past.
The album’s title track lays its claim to the passions next with its blues rock temptation, again a vintage tang flavouring the thrilling stroll before the evocative romance of Under the Moonlit Tree dances with the imagination and straight after and the country blues theatre of Show Me Mercy grabs its own healthy share of the plaudits gathering thickly around the album. Like Elvis sings Tom Waits, Norm and Mick create a compelling persuasion bred from decades of musical seeding.
With a title like They Danced By the Light of the Moon you expect a lively romance of a song and the pair does not disappoint, entwining rockabilly and folk in an energetic yet smouldering embrace emulated by the song’s protagonists. It is another inescapable infection of a song, a rich continuation of the creative persuasion fuelling the album, though shaded a touch by the closing revelry of Badabadabadabada. You have seen those films and shows where the archetypal Englishman with the twisty moustache and striped smoking jacket flirt with and charm the ladies? Well this song is the musical equivalent. Once more that specific British sound pervades the imagination but in tandem with a fifties rock ‘n’ roll croon which comes so easily to the songwriting of Norm, as shown across his previous bands.
The song is a brilliant end to a tremendous release, an inspired and mouth-watering escape from the ills of the world if only for forty minutes or so. Hopefully this is the first of much more from The Bivouac Detectives, but if not, Shoot the Breeze alone has the potential to ensure the band gains and deserves a place on the weekly soundtrack of a great and increasing many. We do not want another Wilberforce Montgomery going on do we?
Shoot the Breeze is available now via The Western Star Recording Company @ https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/shooting-the-breeze/id973800036
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