Just one hit of the powerful, soul-rocking marvel that is “High Class Woman” – the first track on Blues Pills’ self-titled debut album – and you’re plunged straight into the band’s spellbinding, vintage-vibe musical universe. Blues Pills has an unprocessed, back-to-basics sound, and plays with a confident, vibrant energy – almost as though the tunes are coming together as we’re listening, with the band jamming on stage right in front of us. This is obviously a crew that values feel, energy, and expressiveness rather than sanitized, immaculate perfection, and it gives the album an honest, all-natural beauty.
Blues Pills is an international collaboration of the best kind, made up of members from the US, France, and Sweden, and musically they follow in the footsteps of old-school rock acts like Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Jefferson Airplane. They also fit in with current bands like Kadavar and The Vintage Caravan. The music might best be described as soul rock, and is heavily infused with groovy 60s and 70s classic rock, blues, and a touch of psychedelic delight.
Singer Elin Larsson’s expressive vocals are front and center on every track, and that spotlight is well-earned: she has a great voice with just a hint of smoke and darkness, and she’s versatile enough to deliver both shattering emotion, chills-down-your-spine strength, and lyrical subtlety depending on the circumstances.
Her soul-diva potential comes through in full force on the guitar-charged “Ain’t No Change”, while “Black Smoke” is another excellent showcase for her voice – it also serves up some trippier sounds from the band, with a dreamy guitar gliding through it all. And on the wistful, mellowed-out “River”, Larsson and the band allow themselves to show off even more shades and nuances in their music.
Backed up by a rock-solid rhythm section, Larsson’s voice soars freely, and her vocals are perfectly complemented and enhanced by Dorian Sorriaux’ stellar and high-flying guitar. Sorriaux’ guitar-work shines brightly throughout the album – for one great example, just listen to the terrific “Astralplane”.
Other standout tracks include the passionate “No Hope Left For Me” with its fuzzy and raw guitar – pain and regret bleeding through in both the music and the vocals; and the spectacular “Devil Man”, amping up the energy with its defiant lyrics and sound “you take diamonds you’ve been given and turn them into coal” – definitely one of the high-points on the album.
The very best track on the album, for me anyway, is the last one: “Little Sun”. It’s a sublime, gorgeous pearl of a tune: there’s a sadness here and an almost pleading passion, flavored with just a hint of Swedish folk-music in both the music and Larsson’s vocals – that melancholy lilt of sorrow and love, longing and regret.
Gloriously free of harmful and unnecessary musical additives, Blues Pills’ full-length debut brings on the retro-rocking feel with absolute conviction, heart, soul, and skill. It will be very interesting to see where this young band takes their music in the future.
Blues Pills is currently on an extensive European tour, and their album is available world-wide via Nuclear Blast.
- High Class Woman
- Ain’t No Change
- Black Smoke
- No Hope Left For Me
- Devil Man
- Little Sun
- Elin Larsson – Vocals
- Dorian Sorriaux – Guitar
- Zack Anderson – Bass
- André Kvarnström – Drums