A few weeks back, preparing to be stirred up by the ever compelling dishevelled gentleman of blues, Seasick Steve at London Apollo Hammersmith, a majestic and fiery blues hex descended on ears and emotions in the shape of My Baby. Hailing from the Netherlands, the trio of Cato van Dyck, Joost (Sheik) van Dyck, and Daniel (Da Freez) Johnston were the announced support but unexpected intoxication infesting body and imagination with their delta blues seeded, rousing funk fuelled prowess. Fair to say My Baby rocked the walls and all between that night and sparked hungry attention on their just as recently released second album, Shamanaid. It has proven to be a proposition which more than lives up to the promise and anticipation bred through the forty minutes or so of their company that evening whilst revealing much more of the depth and adventure in the My Baby sound.
With its members bred in a Dutch and New Zealand climate, My Baby came together with a mutual lust for “fingerpickin’ guitars, voodoo, roots, funk, gospel and Southern swampy blues”. 2013 saw the release of debut album My Baby Loves Voodoo! via Embrace Recordings, its emergence greedily received and devoured and the spark to a global tour and shows from Texas to Tokyo, London to Lichtenvoorde, and Vienna to Wellington. My Baby also found itself embraced by radio stations and invited to support Henny Vrienten, as well as play on his latest release. The recent tour with Seasick Steve has enveloped the unveiling of Shamanaid, My Baby nudging the broadest fevered attention yet for their psyche inciting sound through said live adventure and even more potently with the provocative shamanic lures of the album.
The exceptional Seeing Red sets the spellbinding experience in motion, its first touch enslaving bait alone as dulled but pungent beats escort a spicy strum of guitar. Their combined lure embraces the magnetic tones of Cato next; her delivery and syllables dancing on the strands of rhythmic and acoustic coaxing like a temptress. The repetitious core of the song proceeds to bounce like a metronome inside ears and head, trapping both as melodies flirt with thoughts through their picturesque craft. The Louisiana air of the band’s sound is just as spicy as the enterprise if breeds, the song increasingly binding the listener in inescapable charm and seduction whilst it’s infectious shuffle, well that has the body enthralled from its first moment.
The thrilling start is matched by the calmer but sultrier melodic waters of Meet Me At The Wishing Well. From the first moment a bewitching hook shines from within another minimalistic but pungent rhythmic and riffs lined stroll. Whereas live the band roared like a lioness, the record sees My Baby explore more their acoustic imagination and skills, the second song a radiant affair for ears and emotions. The shimmer of sound and richness of vocals make for a reflective hug which has body swerves and foot taps as eager as ears and thoughts are at the hands of the lyrical and vocal painting.
Variety and potency is kept ablaze by Uprising next, its blues flaming and dub infused tenacity an incendiary proposal which whether the song swims on a melodic breeze or erupts in an impassioned furnace, only intensifies and incites with blues alchemy. The track has been a thick lure into the album, an easy to see success such the unstoppable and fierce mesmerism on ears and emotions fuelling every aspect and twist of its triumph.
A mellower but no less tempting kiss comes next with The Doors Of Your Mind, its smouldering air and reflective blend of words and vocals a tantalising croon which simply slips under the skin. Offering more evidence that My Baby is as skilled and poetic laying a gentle evocative hand on ears as they are stirring up blood and energy, the song makes way for the similarly delicate Mary Morgan. There is a livelier vivacity to the richly hued encounter but matches its predecessor in vocal adventure as well as brewing a melodic tonic as colourful as the lyrical tale exposed by Cato.
Remedy flirts with an initial spatial coaxing next, rhythms adding alluring shadows as Cato’s harmonies inflame the air. Eventually a slight but definite tribalistic tenacity merges with a fascinating web of blues expression created by guitars; the slide version a lip smacking tangy seducing against the darker hues of bass and the ever anthemic rhythms. There is an intensive varying of styles and persuasion across the album, far more than found in the band’s first full-length; all songs making fascinating and empowering propositions, and especially here providing an unrelenting lifting of spirit and energy for the listener before the poetic elegance of Hidden From Time lies down beside ears and envelops them in its beauty.
The rhythmic saunter and sonic temptation of 6X2 slips in next, voice and guitar entwining with a blend of gospel and blues rooted serenading. As ever there is an edge to it all though, a raw and uncorrupted essence taken from the roots of all flavours woven into song and album. Once again musical hypnotism is at work as, like all songs within Shamanaid, it removes the listener from the real world for an instant or two before handing them over to the just as potent escape of Marching. With a relaxed but inescapable swing and an anthemic might to its seductive chorus, the track is a puppeteer to body and soul, only releasing its lingering grip when the closing Panggajo brings its worldly mystique and spirit to arrest ears and imagination.
The song is an enchanting end to a treat of an encounter more than living up to hopes seeded seeing My Baby live. Shamanaid does not have the fierce roar and volatile energy of their live show but ventures into a just as thrilling and gripping acoustic/melody exploration. It also shows a big leap in sound and imagination from its highly pleasing predecessor. My Baby is aural voodoo indeed with the sweetest toxicity.
Shamanaid is out now via Embrace Recordings @ https://mybaby.bandcamp.com/album/shamanaid