Saint Jude - 'Diary Of A Soul Friend'

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Saint Jude - 'Diary Of A Soul Friend'

A staggeringly accomplished first album. Superb stuff.

A lot of the time I get stuff to review because I ask for it. Sometimes things will be passed to me by a colleague or a PR guy because they think it's my thing. And sometimes one comes at you out of the blue and makes a great impression. Saint Jude did just that.

Are they a new name to you? They were to me. Fortunately, that's because this is their debut album which I'm happy about, because it means I haven't missed them prior to this! Saint Jude are a female fronted quintet playing classic rock in a seventies style. While that sounds okay, I don't have a great deal of female acts in my collection. There's a few, but they tend to be more raunchy and raspy - the likes of Alannah Myles, Tina Turner, Lulu, etc. Fortunately, Saint Jude's vocalist, the fine looking Lynne Jackaman, has a delivery like that, along with bags of power and confidence.

Backed by a thumping rhythm section comprised of Colin Palmer Kellogg on bass and drummer Lee Cook, Jackaman's vocals are flanked by the keyboards of Joe Glossop and guitar riffing of Adam Greene. The five piece's opening track 'Soul On Fire' is absolutely top drawer. It's like a modern take on great seventies rock, without ripping anybody off or sounding like an inferior version of all those great seventies bands. Jackaman's voice is excellent and combined with the great riffs and hook in the chorus, I was immediately impressed. 'Garden Of Eden' and 'Little Queen' are just as good, before the pace slows a bit with 'Down This Road' - the first song the band wrote together.

There's more slow burners in the form of 'Down And Out', 'Pleased To Meet You' and 'Angel' before the rocking and catchy 'Southern Belles' closes the record with another excellent chorus up there with the quality of the first three tracks. That would be the only criticism I could level at this album - with such a great start with the first three and the finale of 'Southern Belle', the middle of the album has a group of slower tracks, without the singalong choruses all together. They are great songs in their own right, but I'd have preferred another up-tempo one in the mix there - however, that really is me looking for something to find fault with it.

With such a high quality debut, along with the fact they have people like Ronnie Wood getting up to jam with them and Jimmy Page thinks they rock, you have the makings of something great. If seventies rock was (or is) your thing, check these guys out. They do it like they were there in the first place, but with a bright and stunning modern production. Add to the fact they aren't afraid to add some extra flourishes in the form of some well utilised horns, percussion and extra backing vocals, you have a staggeringly accomplished first album. Superb stuff.

James Gaden

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