Stillman is one of those propositions which you find it difficult to fathom why a wider recognition is not in place around it. The band is the solo project of Londoner Chaz Craik, a musician which is no stranger to certainly acclaim with his previous releases but yet to find that fuse to a bigger spotlight within British rock. Whether new EP We Are The Trouble can be that trigger is arguable, though only time can tell, but certainly the three track release makes for an exciting and accomplished encounter of classic rock with eager essences of blues and plenty more to its vibrant persuasion reinforcing the potential and inventive quality of its creator.
Stillman released his first album on the TRL Music label in 2007, moving away from but still finding inspiration in his roots in the post-Britpop years. From the well-received People Like a Happy Ending, the release winning the Album of the Year award at the Glasswerk New Music Awards, Craik has continued to build and earn a potent presence and reputation in the rock underground earning good media responses and fan acclaim. The independently released Blood Dark Sea two years later garnered eager praise whilst the EPs Eton Mess and On Bended Knee, in 2012 saw the artist venture deeper into his rock passion and craft, again to very positive responses. We Are The Trouble takes it all further, creating a creatively engaging and skilfully crafted blaze of melodic rock which grips attention.
The title track starts things off, an immediate guitar croon spiralling to the top of the muscular coaxing. The fingers of Craik tease and stroke the strings of his guitar and thus ears with an instant temptation, the inventively designed suasion easily awakening imaginations and appetites. A throaty bass presence and crisp beats court the striking endeavour as does straightforward but attractive riffery aligned to the constant weave of melodic emprise. Increasingly potent the more you engage in the adventure, the song makes a thoroughly appetising starter with the smooth vocals of Craik gliding over and through the sounds to add to the colour of the song. Though personally a bit of a snarl to his tones would be welcome, his delivery only embraces and adds to the texture of song and release.
After the strong start, the release takes another upturn with the blues bred swagger that is Checking In. With swinging guitar clad hips and a keen rhythmic energy provided again by drummer Jason Emberton, the song strolls with a grin on its melodic face and mischief in its creative intent. Though the bluesy voice of the guitar is unmissable, the song is still a rocker at its core and has little difficulty in enlisting feet and emotions in its fiery persuasion whilst furthering the evidence of Craik’s skills.
The EP’s strongest moment is left till last. While Rome Burns emerges from similar blues bred seeds to its predecessor, its groove and lilt similar but with a stronger burn to its magnetic heat and virulent enticement. In full flight the irrepressible stomp has a Deep Purple like spice to its sound and a southern twang to its melodic voice. The song is a riveting urgent stroll which adds blues flames and the occasional and exceptional flume of Eastern mystique across its landscape to irresistible effect. It all makes for a glorious romp which alone shows why the wider rock world should pay attention to Stillman.
We Are The Trouble EP could be the spark to give Stillman a fuller spotlight to embrace, a greater audience to take his creative and inventive not forgetting very skilful adventure to. If not it still provides a thoroughly pleasing and vivacious slice of honest rock ‘n’ roll for us in the know, classic rock to feed the fullest needs and you cannot ask for much more than that really.
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