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Kris Barras Band, Light It Up – Review

Genre: Blues Rock / Classic Rock

Label: Provogue

Release Date: September 13th 2019

Band Members: 

Kris Barras – Vocals/Guitar,
Elliott Blackler – Bass,
Will Beavis – Drums,
Josiah J Manning – Keys,

Additional vocal performances from: 

Alex Hart, Phoebe Jane, Joanna Cooke

Track Listing:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A little over a year after Kris Barras Band delivered their album launch for ‘The Divine and Dirty’ to a crowd of around 75 people, they return with the follow up ‘Light It Up’ on the back of 12 months of hard work that has seen the band increase their audience tenfold. Their last gig at The Garage in London (the venue is underneath the one that hosted the launch event for TD&D) played host to around 600. Hard work, persistence, great musicianship and most importantly, killer tunes, have all contributed to the band’s well deserved rise. Three years of performances at Ramblin’ Man Fair have seen the band move from Rising Stage to Blues Stage to Main Stage. If they can achieve the same level of progression in the US (where the band’s style of music is a natural fit) then we’re looking at future festival headliners. One only has to look at the rise and rise of Black Stone Cherry to appreciate that this is entirely possible!

The album opens with ‘What You Get’ and that pretty much sums up ‘Light It Up‘. There are no frills, no glossy overproduced tracks where average musicianship and songs are masked by a wall of layers to disguise something sub par. Instead, every instrument rings out clearly, Kris’s gravelly vocal style perfectly suiting the music on offer and those guitar solos… well, a mere 3 minutes into the album and we’re reminded just why so many of us have made the effort to go and see him play so many times over the last 18 months.

‘Broken Teeth‘, a track that, as Kris pointed out during a recent discussion at Ramblin’ Man Fair, could easily “refer to my time as a MMA fighter,” but instead talks about not being afraid of getting your hands dirty and getting a little bit hurt along the way. It’s followed up with one of the most infectious tracks on the album, ‘Vegas Son’ which, given the location it refers to, offers up a story about taking risks.

Of course, everyone who has followed Kris and the band over the last 18 months will have had ample opportunity to listen to ‘Ignite (Light It Up)’ and it’s already become a staple of the live set, much to the delight of those in the crowd for whom it’s become a fist in the air anthem.

‘6AM’ is one of those songs that requires a clear head and time to really take in the lyrics. With 101 things going through your mind as you try and juggle everything in life as you strive to achieve your goals, those 6am moments where you simply haven’t been able to sleep, yet you lie in bed wishing you could get at least an hour of peace have visited all of us at some point.  This is a song that offers the hope that what you seek can be achieved and it’s an excellent message to get across especially in light of the phenomenal rise that Kris and the band have achieved through sheer grit and determination (plus the odd rather good song or 10) over the last year or so.

Things slow down a little bit with ‘Rain’ thanks to a mellow keys driven intro from Josiah J Manning who incidentally also produced the album. “I will be your roof in the rain,” sings Kris suggesting he would do anything for the individual he’s singing about. Empathy, connections, emotions, a desire to be there for others… we’ve all thought it, we’ve all experienced it, Kris has put it into words and now gives us a song to latch on to. One mix tape for the significant other coming up!

“I know you’re lying ‘cos you’ve opened your mouth”, intones Kris on ‘Counterfeit People’, an indictment sadly of a lot of society these days. The song, looking at how the image people present is often fake and not reflective of the real them, can be applied to so many. Suffice to say it will strike a chord with many who will realise they know people that are just like that!

A bluesy ‘Let the River Run’ is followed by the up tempo ‘Bullet’ which feels like a natural follow up to ‘Hail Mary’ from ‘The Divine and Dirty’. The southern rock of ‘Wound Up’ continues the energised approach before ‘What A Way To Go’ dips into a little bit of Deep Purple territory with some great crunchy riffs and Josiah calling upon his inner Jon Lord. A great track and another that we can only hope becomes a firm live favourite. Talking of live, the UK tour in October starts soon. Details below:

TICKETS FOR THE TOUR CAN BE PURCHASED HERE: 

‘Not Fading’ with some rapid riffing from the off also suggests Kris has got the ability on future releases to really mix it up. Whilst we’re not suggesting that he’ll be playing speed metal akin to Megadeth, there’s a feeling that he can \ could play some seriously fast solos and riffs if needs be and it’s a style that it would be good to see explored on the next album.

The album closes with ‘Pride is Forever’ and, like the previous album, it’s a slower number. Of course it’s ever going to capture the emotion about losing your Father who’s then looking down on you as you succeed with your dream of becoming a successful musician but the track delivers a truly heartfelt song. It dips into ‘Whiter Shade of Pale’ territory musically at the mid point and as a lover of that Procol Harum track, I for one think this is a great way to close out. Like a great whiskey, the song leaves you feeling warm and satisfied rather than sweaty and exhausted and that’s without a doubt the best way to end.

Overall this is a fantastic release. It has the familiarity of its predecessor without simply copying the formula. The ‘if it ain’t broke’ approach underpins the album enough to immediately feel at home from the off but the added input from the band and Josiah’s production give ‘Light It Up’ something new to latch on to as well.

The repeat play button will be used a lot.

SCORE 9/10

REVIEWER: Adrian Hextall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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