The new album from Rebecca Downes delivers on all fronts.
To say we've been eagerly waiting for the new Rebecca Downes album is like saying the sun rises in the East; in other words, stating the b&^%^g obvious! Now we've finally got it and given it a few spins, and I'm pleased to announce the album does not disappoint! I had thought to tease you all for a while in this review before giving my opinion, but the fact is the album is simply too good to play games!
Now don't get me wrong, I was a little nervous as I loaded it into the CD deck, after all we announced we would be doing a Rebecca Downes Week to coincide with the release of the album some time ago, what if it wasn't everything we hoped it would be? The answer to that question came within 30 seconds of pressing the play button, as nervousness gave way to total excitement as soon as riff to Take Me Higher, the opening track , kicked in and the band tore a hole in speakers before Rebecca's soulful voice reached out, grabbed my ears and simply refused to let go from beginning to end and back again!
More Sinner Than Saint is a masterclass in musicianship of the highest order, with Rebecca's effortless, yet soulful vocals showing a lot of these young metal bands of recent years how to sing a rock song with power and range whilst conveying the emotion and meaning of a song, and without the screeching that most new female fronted bands seem to drift into these days.
Not that the other members of the band shirk their duties either. Steve Birkett's guitar work switches effortlessly from perfectly crafted guitar solo to power chords and back again, with the driving, solid bass and drum team of Dan Clark and Lloyd Daker providing the perfect framework with which to drape everything else around. It would be rude of me not to mention the keys and Hammond work of Rick Benton whilst dishing out all the praise. Sometimes subtle, sometimes brutal, the balance between guitars and keyboards is often difficult to achieve, yet here on this album Birkett and Benton blend their sound perfectly.
Above all however, it is still Rebecca's voice that shines through, as she marries performance and meaning with consummate ease. By that I mean, if the song requires emotional vulnerability (as in Screaming Your Name) or anger at one's own weakness (as in If I Go To Sleep), Rebecca sings each song with the emotion required in her voice to convey the meaning of the words. And she does it without you consciously noticing. It's just there, in the voice. You know what she means with your own emotional reaction. There's no contrivance, no over-singing, just a voice that says everything you need to know.
Now throughout this review, I've referred to the "effortlessness" of things and some such, but that is not to say the band is laid back or that the album is over produced or lacking in any way. The energy of the band is fully retained in the mix. Those who have experienced and raved about the powerful live performances will not be disappointed by this studio sound.
The album itself, continues RB's journey toward a more rocky sound, although blues fans need not panic at that statement. The influence is still clearly there, and stated in the opening notes of the very first song, Take Me Higher, whilst the closing song, With Me, is a stunning rock ballad with a blues motif. It's just that the rock sound is more to the fore than on previous albums; the roots may be the blues but the flowers are definitely the colours of rock.
In conclusion, be in no doubt that "More Sinner Than Saint" is a five stars out of five tour de force of an album, and if there is any justice on the world, it will finally propel Rebecca Downes to being the superstar that we all know she should be. Buy it now. Don't wait, don't hesitate, just get it now! You won't be disappointed.