Bringing Back the Blues
Be prepared to go on a soulful journey with The Heavy on The House That Dirt Built, the band’s sophomore album. The English quartet may have named its record after a nursery rhyme (“This is the House that Jack Built”), but it’s anything but childish. The Heavy hit a winning combination of funky horn arrangements, driving guitars, and bluesy vocals.
The House That Dirt Built is primarily composed of two styles: high energy rock tracks (“Oh No! Not You Again!”, “How You Like Me Now?”) and neo-soul blues ballads (“Sixteen”, “Long Way from Home”). The band synthesize diverse genres, at once paying homage to classical influences like Led Zeppelin and James Brown while creating their own characteristic sound.
Dan Taylor’s heavy rocking guitars on tracks like “No Time” and “What You Want Me to Do?” anchor you to the beat, churning through the noise to the melody of Kelvin Swaby’s powerful vocals. Yet even in the midst of the wildest jamming or funkiest frenzy, the grooving horns and subtle guitar arrangements winding through the background recall the band’s attention to detail.
Swaby’s soulful voice swings over the funky blues waltz of “Sixteen,” supported by a cool, clean guitar solo and low, percussive horns. This stylistic diversity continues on “Short Change Hero,” recalling the feeling of an old Western showdown with its shuffling acoustic guitar and ominous bells. “Cause for Alarm,” a reggae jam with light staccato beats and layers of instrumentation, displays yet another fusion of musical genres.
The album ends on “Stuck,” a slow country ballad. It comes dangerously close to being a predictable cliché, with high, delicate vocal melodies echoed by piano and string arrangements. But overall, The House That Dirt Built is a refreshing digression from mainstream rock. The Heavy are bringing back the blues, and adding their own rhythm.