His Masters Voice The Devils Blues - Woman

His Masters Voice - The Devils Blues.jpg

By Gray Vickers

Released Friday September 29th, 2017 - Records DK

According to legend… one fated evening, sometime during the South’s great depression, a lone figure stood in the middle of a crossroad on the Mississippi highway. With a guitar case in one hand, and his soul in the other, a young Robert Johnson was ready to make a deal. Not long after the Devil blessed him with un-paralleled singing and guitar skills, the debt was called and Johnson joined the 27 club, giving rise to much mythology and legend. Now, I’m not saying that any of the fine young gents in His Masters VoiceThe Devils Blues have made any deals at any crossroads lately, but it’s clear from their brand new EP, that the Devil is back with the Blues.

Recorded in Auckland’s Roundhead Studios, this 4 Track EP is a phenomenal showcase of the raw and powerful musicianship on tap in this band. This is not simply a blues record, nor can it be categorised any other way. It bathes in groove and swagger, whilst wallowing in despair and pain. Vocalist Jesse Sorensen echoes heartbreak and agony in moments, other times it’s his light hearted cheeky personality shining through. Although only 4 songs big, there is a lot of music held within this release. The EP is bookended by the complex and intricate “Burning” and “Woman”, Blending blistering blues riffs and passages, with progressive arrangements. While “Burning” starts the EP off by raising some hell, “Woman” softly puts it back to sleep as it closes the record out. Sandwiched between the epic journeys, are the punchier and more traditional tracks “Evil” and “What Do I look Like”. Straight to the point and fun as hell, these shorter songs are a perfect match for their epic counterparts.

The production of “Woman” is perfectly stripped back. You won’t find thickly layered guitars or piles of multi-tracked instrumentations here, rather, it’s a solid representation of a powerhouse performance by 4 incredible talented musicians. I’ve been lucky enough to witness the ferocious live beast that is His Masters Voice – The Devils Blues in the flesh many times and each time I’ve been floored. Whether it’s Az Burns shredding both tastefully and effortlessly, René Harvey laying down the heaviest grooves known to mankind, or Brandon Bott locking in to form part of New Zealand’s tightest rhythm section, the musicianship on display is exceptional. What His Masters Voice have accomplished is perfectly capture that live feeling. From ride cymbal count ins, naturally decaying guitar hangs, and all the beautiful human imperfections that come with tracking with such a minimalist approach, This EP sounds and feels like a polished live band faithfully recreating their live show in the studio. On top of having such a mighty rhythm section, the band has a true secret weapon in Singer / Guitarist Jesse Sorensen. It’s his heart and soul on show in this EP, and he flaunts his incredible vocal range at will. Which a backdrop of such outstanding playing, it would’ve been easy lose the vocals amongst the chaos and wailing in the bigger sections, instead the vocals soar higher and leads the band into the fray every time.

It’s a very simple verdict this record. His Masters Voice – The Devils Blues have captured exactly what makes them an amazing live band. Incredible guitar playing, powerful rhythms and unchained energy contrasted with complete restraint, so much is put on display musically in just 4 songs, and for those songs to then be capped off with powerful and melancholic vocals is a true feat indeed. While it is short, its function to leave listeners wanting more is absolutely accomplished. His Masters Voice – The Devils Blue will no doubt be busy touring off the back of this EP and hopefully in time, will be back with a full length LP to satiate their growing fan base. If this EP is anything to go by, we could have some exceptional blues on our shores for some time to come. 

4.5 / 5