@planetmosh reviews Across the Divide by .@FederalCharm
Federal Charm are a four piece blues rock band from Manchester, who released their self titled debut album back in 2013. Their new album Across the Divide will be released on October 2nd, and the band is currently promoting it on tour across the UK with Joanne Shaw Taylor. I saw Federal Charm almost a year ago when they opened for The Black Crowes Rich Robinson on his solo tour. They struggled that night as they were unfortunate enough to be playing one of the worst venues in town, and were on so early it was almost empty. However, they still stuck in my head as one to watch. I got the feeling they were much better than that night allowed them to be, so it was with great interest I sought out this new release. I’m not sure how many gigs they’ve played like the one I saw, but I’m guessing that wasn’t the only one, so they’ve paid their dues and now I really hope this album gets the success it deserves. Whether anyone’s watching or not relentless gigging can only make you tighter as a band and that certainly seems to be the case here.
Nick Bowden (vocals and guitar), Paul Bowe (guitars), LD Morawski (bass) and Danny Rigg (drums) have produced a really good album with Across the Divide. Bowden has a voice well suited to this particular brand of blues rock, really emotive and plaintive on the bluesier tracks but strong on the rock ones. The trick with this kind of music, I think, is to know when to shut up and let the guitars do the talking and as songwriters they’ve really got that nailed. There’s a variety of genres on this record, from the guitar driven blues of These Four Walls and God, Forsaken to the hillbilly hoedown harmonica of Give me Something. The album starts off quite upbeat with Master Plan and Guess What, tracks that show off the benefits of Bowden and Bowe’s dual guitars. Guess What is a very catchy singalong track, with the dual guitars joined by a piano. The first single from the album is Hercules, one of those tracks that instantly strikes you as a track that would be brilliant live. It’s fast-paced, has some very catchy lyrics and is guaranteed to get the heads nodding. Up to this point it’s been five tracks of blues rock, so what I wasn’t expecting to come next was Give me Something, which instantly conjures up images of rows of line dancers in chaps and stetsons, chewing tobacco and drinking. It’s a whisky soaked, knee slapping honky tonk track Blackberry Smoke would be proud of. There can’t be much of that coming out of Manchester but it sounds completely authentic. Bowden’s vocal again comes to the fore on Silhouette, showing off his power, which continues on the Bonamassa-esque God, Forsaken. Final track Walk Away (Time and Time Again) is worthy of many, many listens, it really is the most heartbreaking, heartfelt blues. It can only have come from something real, and while you’d never wish this kind of pain on anyone it has helped to create something devastatingly beautiful. In all, while Federal Charm may not have had their best gig ever the night I saw them, having listened to Across the Divide I’d be crazy not to go and see them again.
These four Walls
Give me Something
Walk Away (Time and Time Again)