Review: Federal Charm – 'Across The Divide'

I caught Federal Charm Live recently supporting Joanne Shaw Taylor and I was basically blown away. They were so infectious they should  have had a health warning. As soon as the set was complete, I took off and bought the debut CD. Unfortunately, due to beer token requirements I did not buy a copy of ‘Across The Divide’.
After just one listen to their first album I had to rectify this, and a few days later this gem turned up. It was released earlier this month, and as good as the first album was, this is just a different class. The band have been touring constantly, and it really shows in the maturity of this Blues Rock masterpiece.
The UK is throwing young blues rockers at us by the multitude, and they are all knocking it out of the park. With the likes of The Temperance Movement, King King, The Answer, and Bad Touch, to name but a few, it has to be the most talented genre out there at this moment… but enough of the preamble, let’s get down to business.
The album kicks off with “Master Plan” and the groove grabs you from the first bars. The only way you will not be moving to this is if you are paralysed from the head down… and even then your ears will be flapping to the beat. This is a corker, A Rival Sons/The Answer crossbreed with so much bite you will need a tetanus jab . Next up is “Guess What”, and you get swamped in a Blues grind. A repetitive guitar riff that has the foot tapping like crazy. It has a lovely Blues guitar/keys and vocals breakdown in the middle.
“No More” has a kind of Stones intro hook, with a Hendrix guitar screech, which gives way to an up tempo Faces collage, full to bursting with tambourine. With” These Four Walls” it is slowed down to perfection. Nick Bowden’s vocals are the smoky, depressed and achingly sad that you want from a song of this calibre. This is a stand out track, and if you like your tracks slow and steeped in Rory Gallagher greatness, you are not going to top this. An absolutely beautiful song.
“Hercules” was the lead single from the album. It is a good track, but a bit generic for me. There are so many better tracks on here, and I feel people will not get a good feel for the album as a whole from it. “Give Me Something” definitely does… a redneck hoedown with attitude. Maybe there were too many drinks downed when this song was jammed, but it works like a dream. This is another gem, showing the diversity of this band, and you know it can’t be bad with a harmonica on it. It is the law that no song can be classed as bad with a “mouthy” on board.
“Silhouette” has been bugging me beyond belief. It sounded so familiar I thought it was cover. I racked my brains for days and then it hit me…as unlikely as it seems, Saxon’s, “747 (Strangers In The Night)” is the one. It is like a blues breakdown of the chorus and as I grew up on this gem I loved the song, especially when I finally nailed down who it sounded like (but to be honest, it is probably only me that it will sound similar too).
“God Forsaken” slows it all back down again, and to me this is where Federal Charm shine. This was what grabbed me live. The quality of the talent screams out of your speakers and shakes you to your foundations. Another masterpiece. “Push” is an up-tempo number, another Stones grinding, hand clapping little bugger. Get those hips swinging and the lips out. “The Thrill” throws it all at you. It goes through Blues/Rock and a little tinge of Soul. This is what is so good about Federal Charm, they throw everything into a melting pot and pour out pure class.
“Walk Away (Time and Time Again)” is slow, simple, and takes this album to another level. It is obviously a heartfelt song straight from the heart, and it will stick to your soul. All I can say is this is a sublime number and you MUST hear it for yourself. It is a stunning song to finish on. You will play this again and again as you will the whole album. If you like your rock bluesy with guts, and want something new to listen to, you cannot go wrong with Federal Charm. These guys have a very bright future ahead of them.
Review Ritchie Birnie

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