Review: Kris Barras Band – ‘Light It Up’

Kris Barras BandWhen it comes to writing an album review, the idea is to try and hook the reader with the opening few lines. We are, after all, constantly getting bombarded with stats that show the average attention span is getting less and less, and unless the reader/viewer is hooked straight away, they will ultimately move on.

When it comes to Kris Barras Band there is no need for a snappy eye-catching intro, just be a lazy sod and let the official Mascot Label press release do the hard work. Let this sink in for a moment or two… (this release) follows a whirlwind 18 months since the release of the bands breakthrough album The Divine and Dirty in March 2018, where Kris sold 75 tickets for the London album launch at Thousand Islands. Just 11 months later, Kris and his band returned to play to 500 people at the main room of the Garage, London with an incredible ride to get there.

That’s an astounding leap to make, and one with a refreshing lack of hype. Yes Greta Van Fleet are now selling out Academy sized venues after one album, but the flipside is that the backlash has begun in earnest. With Kris Barras and his talented bunch of bandmates, the upwards trajectory is not only well-deserved, but hard fought. It’s hard to imagine a month in the last 18 where he wasn’t on the road. Not only with his band, but as the frontman of Supersonic Blues Machine, lining up alongside Billy F. Gibbons amongst others. He has earned the acclaim that has already came his way, as well as the barrel loads that ‘Light It Up’ will no doubt bring.

‘The Divine and Dirty’ is a cracking album, but the difference between it and ‘Light It Up’ is like night and day. Everything about ‘Light It Up’ screams “the big leagues”; the production, the song-writing, the playing – it’s all out of this world. From the call-to-arms drum intro of opening track ‘What You Get’, through the sassy slide guitar laden ‘Broken Teeth’ (complete with lush female backing vocals) and the Allman Brothers-esque ‘Rain’, to the effortlessly cool guitar work on ‘Let The River Run Through You’ and ‘Bullet’, this is the sound of someone full of belief, and confidence in their own abilities. Barras has taken the experiences of the last 18 months and put them to good use. His song-writing has improved immensely, and the end result is a mature, commercial album.

Barras will always be classed as a blues player, but that is perhaps a misnomer. Yes there is plenty of blues in his playing, but there is much more to ‘Light It Up’ than simply blues or blues-rock. Maybe think something along the lines of Kenny Wayne Shepherd with a beard and an English accent? Shepherd is a chameleon that can adapt to whatever the situation calls for, and there is a lot of these qualities within Barras. Tracks such as ‘What A Way To Go’ (more cowbell…) and ‘Not Fading’ (Josiah J Manning steals the show with his keys performance) are fine examples of what a modern day all-rounder sounds like. Mascot need to get Barras over to the States, it’s easy to imagine him playing the likes of ‘Pride Is Forever’ on the busy amphitheatres circuit in the Summer. The lambshanks would love this guy.

‘Light It Up’ is available now.

Review – Dave

Tour dates –

Sat 5 Oct – OPEN, Norwich w/Walter Trout
Thurs 10 Oct – Live Rooms, Chester
Fri 11 Oct – Arlington Arts, Newbury
Sat 12 Oct – O2 Academy 2, Sheffield w/Walter Trout
Sun 13 Oct – Fleece, Bristol
Tues 15 Oct – Robin, Bilston
Weds 16 Oct – 1865, Southampton
Thurs 17 Oct – Exeter Phoenix
Fri 18 Oct – O2 Academy Islington, London
Weds 23 Oct – Oran-Mor, Glasgow
Thurs 24 Oct – Arc, Stockton
Fri 25 Oct – Academy, Manchester
Sun 27 Oct – Fibbers, York
Sat 7 Dec – Planet Rockstock, Wales

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