Wednesday, 14 September 2016

'Blood From A Stone' by Eric Krasno [Review]

We nearly covered a song from this album in last week's 'What I'm listening to... (October)' article but thought we could squeeze an extra word or two about it to form a full-fledged review instead.

While fans wait patiently for the new album from Soulive (of which Krasno makes up one-third of), guitarist Eric Krasno found time to unveil his second solo album within a 12 months that saw him deliver 'Crush' as a member of funk band Lettuce, produce his long-time friend and label-mate Nigel Hall's 'Ladies & Gentlemen...' album, and further develop his record label, Feel Music.

...That's definitely a mouthful.  How he's been able to be a part of so much music over a short span of time is reflective of his passion.  As fans, we can only bask in the results.

Krasno - and in fact Soulive - started as very much as a jazz band: signed to Blue Note Records, their albums 'Doin' Something' (2001) and 'Next' (2002) were contemporary jazz wonders that were progressive and hip-hop inspired.  'Break Out' in 2005 however shifted the band's sound to a more funk and soul aesthetic, and, now, with 'Blood From A Stone', Krasno has shifted that little bit further embracing an edgier side of blues and psychedlic rock, much like he did with The London Souls album 'Here Come the Girls'.

The biggest surprise though is that "guitarist" Eric Krasno, for this project, perhaps is better referred to as "guitarist and vocalist" seeing as he tackles lead vocals on all tracks for the very first time.  The story goes that the songs were initially intended to feature other vocalists but who better to sing your own songs than yourself?!  So he did.  And it's good.  The aforemention Nigel Hall appears on a handful of tracks playing a mix of piano, organ and backing vocals, Alecia Chakour (who we did cover in last week's 'What I'm listening to... (October)' article) appears on 'Wicked This Way' and Soulive's Alan Evans and Neal Evans appear on a song each near the album's closing.

Speaking of Alan Evans, on a slightly separate note, I not too long ago picked up 'Merkaba' (2013), officially by the Alan Evans Trio and thought this project would also be worth a mention.  Evans sees himself hooking up with guitarist Danny Mayer and organist Beau Sasser, and as the album’s writer and producer (and drummer), he takes us on a cosmic and space-age, jazz-tinged and funk-filled trip.  Like Krasno, Evans so rarely showcases his own vocals which is a shame as the standouts on ‘Merkaba’ are when he does take centre-stage: ‘Givin’ To You’, ‘Life Is Harder To Live’ and ‘Who Dare Knock’.  (For other songs featuring Alan Evans on vocals, check out ‘Kim’ from Soulive’s ‘No Place Like Soul’ album (2007) and ‘Tonight’ from their 2009 album, ‘Up Here’.)

The continual expansion of the Soulive dynasty continues so I would urge readers to get your hands on some of the aforementioned projects referenced throughout this review.  Both 'Blood From A Stone' and 'Merkaba' are available to purchase now.

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