Five Horse Johnson - 'The Taking Of Black Heart' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     July 09, 2013    
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A good solid record with plenty to catch the attention.

The seventh studio album from American blues rockers Five Horse Johnson, 'The Taking Of Black Heart' is also my first encounter with them, so I'm afraid I'm woefully ill equipped to tell existing fans how this album compares to their previous work.

For those, like me, who are unfamiliar with the band, the Toledo residents specialise in a brand of dirty, grinding riffs played by Phil Dürr and Brad Coffin, with gravely vocals from Eric Oblander. Steve Smith lays down the bass lines and a smattering of guest musicians fill in the gaps.

'The Job' is a fine bluesy rock number with a touch of southern rock about it, but better still is the Canned Heat feel of 'Keep On Diggin' with Oblander showcasing his skills on the harmonica. The frantic 'Black Heart Baby' is excellent as is the driving 'Shoot My Way Out'. In terms of criticism, a failure to put the track listings on the CD tray in favour of the back of the booklet annoyed me, but that could just be the designer in me talking. The other criticism would be Oblander is limited in range, although he knows this and never steps out of his comfort zone. To remedy this, 'You're My Girl' features Cheap Trick's Robin Zander on vocals – one of the most underrated singers in the business for my money. Zander's performance is (of course) excellent with hints of classic Robert Plant in places.

So it's a good solid record with plenty to catch the attention – the inclusion of Zander only reinforcing that. Worth hearing.

James Gaden

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