‘BRINGING IT ALL BACK HOME’ by Odibal – Album review by Robert Craven.

Tony Floyd Kenna | March 5, 2013 | 0 Comments

‘Bringing It All Back Home’

:Odibal

Review by

Robert Craven.

 

 

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Odi 4:Odibal are a Northern Irish duet, Murray McDowell & Keni Brownlow, and ‘Bringing it all back home’ is a homage to the road trip. It’s an  album, that covers the themes of life on the road the camaderie, stresses, joys and heartbreak that come with it.
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The opening track ‘Appletree’ is a free-wheeling, straight ahead rock ‘n roll song that has an excellent middle eight and sympathetic harmonies throughout. The main vocal sound is somewhere between Fergal Sharkey and Glen Tilbrook.
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Track #2 ‘Nowhere for home’ is a mellow hobo-waltz, with gruff vocals in the Woody Guthrie style, telling life on the road without any ties, but still conveys a spirituality to the life of a loner, with a tasty guitar break in the JJ Cale style.  An easy, hum along-‘Sunday-morning-coming-down’ number.
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Odi 5Track #3 ‘Sober’  the brittle vocals over the guitar, add to the haunting quality of this song of alcohol, love, loss and remorse. Bass and drums pin the song down without drowning it out. The Hammond Organ gives a spiritual feel to this, with a polished and pared guitar break. Good dynamics give this song’s final reprise ‘why didn’t you return my call?’ the punch it needs to lift the end.
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Track #4 Evermore, has a shanty feel, another easy reel with a solid bluegrass 1 and 4 beat, with sweet backing vocals over the gritty words‘I’m yours for evermore’, accordion drives this piece along nicely, you can see the white line of the road flowing past the window as this is played on the radio. I was humming it for hours afterwards. A song that has a twinkle in its eye.
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ODI 2Track #5 ‘Rock Star’, tells of life on the road with a band, to a melody line that again, is steeped in the deep south, the delta blues, acoustic guitar with a finger-picked electric guitar. Once bass and drums come in, the song clips along like a steam train. :Odibal have a great feel for space in a song, the dynamics are well handled and the lyrics are clever ; ‘ we don’t have no merchandise or have women ripping off our ties’. And the musicians most important people are their families, not the trappings of fame or one night stands, the idea that underpins the song.
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Track #6 ‘For your life’, the vocal weaves in and around the solid bass, drums and guitar – there’s a constant thread of spirituality throughout this album, again, the blues are never far from the surface; in both the lyric and in the guitar solos. I’m reminded of songs from Van Morrison here or Paul Brady; it should end with a big brass section to build up the ending – but maybe the budget won’t stretch that far.
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Track #7 ‘Far away from home’, is a folk song, an old Irish ballad style song, accordion, bass, drums and acoustic guitars with the vocals high and clear, again touches of Fergal Sharkey here, about emigration, loss and building of new lives; featuring Jackie Rainey. Less is more here, and the pared back production of the CD works here at its best. A foot-stomping, hand-clapping gem.
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Track #8 ‘Live to love you’, opens with acoustic guitar, bass and distorted electric guitar, again, a throwback to ‘Astral Weeks’ where a basic groove is allowed to build. Folk, rock, jazz and blues are all here, the bass sliding from middle to high register in time, guide in the harmonies, at times there are touches of Lou Reed and Van Morrison here. The guitar solo is spare, singular and basic adding to the atmospheric groove. Great song.
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Track #9 ‘The wrong hand’ – opens on a picked acoustic guitar, the vocals straining ‘when the cards are down I’m always dealt the wrong ones, but not today.’, piano, bass, guitars and drums are sparingly used allowing the harmonies to rise on this beautiful song. As with all the numbers here, the space is deceptive and certainly this is the strongest song on the CD for me as all the elements work here. As good as anything written by either Jonny Cash or Kris Kristofferson.
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Track #10 ‘Where does the light go?’, is a slow blues, led by gravelly vocal and harmonies, has a Willie Nelson air about it, again, the Belfast soul of wet cobbled streets, gospel, grey clouds and welcoming bars can we summed up in the line ‘where dies the light go, when the dark is turned on?’, sweet blues guitar solo is held tight by solid drums and bass.
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Track #11 ‘Going home’  is a funky guitar number, shades of JJ Cale, with a busy bass, a basic backbeat on the drums. It’s a short piece, as funky and smooth as ‘Cleaning windows’ and perhaps a name-check spiel would work if this was performed live. The tour is done, the gigs all played, the instruments all packed away and the band are heading home.
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None of the album’s tracks are longer than four minutes, but manage to showcase the song-writing and skilful musicianship of Murray and Keni, without at any point, overdoing it. :Odibal have clearly got their chops and paid their dues  on the road and both men celebrate the life it provides and regrets at the same time. This is an Antrim gospel, full of wry grit and honesty. A great album.
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Robert Craven 2013

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Category: CD Reviews