So when this cd dropped into the letterbox I was surprised by the title and the artist. The title reminded me of Sheryl Crow's first album and suggests an informal gathering on Sunday evenings by befriended artists, jamming away until they have some coherent songs. Fink I never put the word blues in combination with. I have a few of his albums, but not all were interesting enough for me to have.
The first song, 'Cold Feet', puts me back to the summer of 1981. A new album by The Rolling Stones. At the time my favourite band, without any competition come close. That strange song on side two called 'Heaven'. A song that had nothing to do with The Stones as I knew the band. In 2017 I think, wow! 'Cold Feet' has that riff or something close to it. Mystery, dark, brooding. A rhythmic sound like a whip cracks through the song. The tempo somehow brings to mind slaves working cotton fields and a chain gang. All working to one rhythm. The sound effects make 'Cold Feet' a very modern blues. The blues hollering is totally recognisable though.
This moves into song two. A capella 'She Was Right' is in the beginning, before a drone is brought in. So much can be done with voices, studio effects and space. The sounds are even optional here. In a way take attention away from that vocal. By then it is totally clear that blues has to be taken with a pinch of salt. This Sunday night blues club has nothing to do with Muddy Waters and the way he played the electric blues. Fink has created a hybrid of the pre-Chicago, big city, electric blues and 2010s electronics.
'Boneyard' is a sort of departure on the album. Fink moves into the electric blues and stays there. The concept of "a club of friends" playing is enacted much better here. The sense of a band at work on blues songs comes through here and not of one person experimenting with the settings on his stompboxes and other electronics to create blueslike atmospheres. Don't get me wrong here, I'm talking of the expectations raised by the album's title not the quality on offer, as you could have surmised from the above. That part holds the absolute highlight of the album, 'Little Bump'. What a craft this song shows.
So who are in Fink's blues club? Well, mostly Fin Greenall himself, with David Shirley on drums and saxophone player Colin Stetson. Not much of a club, is it? But something else Greenall said does make a lot of sense. Let me quote the bio accompanying the album:
And that comment strikes a chord listening to Fink's Sunday Night Blues Club, Vol. 1. Fink has come up with eight highly original, original blues songs in form, shape and feel. After collecting and studying the blues for a few years, it is safe to conclude that Fin Greenall passed his class and majored in the blues.
"You'd think that writing blues was easy - but it isn't ... It's easy to copy, sure, and to cover, definitely, but to write original blues that is more than just a photocopy of the past actually turned out to be equally challenging and natural..."
For later this year a regular Fink album is announced, but to be honest I can't wait for Vol. 2.
You can listen to 'Boneyard' here: