Blackbird Hill – Midday Moonlight
Release Date: 5th April 2017
French two-piece, Blackbird Hill, have just released their second EP, ‘Midday Moonlight’, which is the follow-up to their 2015 EP, ‘Songs To Keep The Devil Busy’. This fresh EP was my first introduction to the band, so I was more than curious to see what this brief six-track offering had inside. Especially as they’re a two piece band. You never know how much bass will be produced into the mix as well as other variables. Typically I’m not overly fond of two piece bands if the bass isn’t present, but what I heard from Blackbird Hill took my ears by surprise, in a nostalgic and familiar way.
Opening track ‘Trigger Law’ makes an impact from the get-go and tells you what Blackbird Hill are all about with swampy blues-like riffs, quieter verses and an explosive ending to the track. Following track, ‘Horseback Sight’ is a slower paced and emotional track. For a French duo who have all their social media written in French, their English singing is stellar. The instrumentation on the track remains a simple and effective approach, not dissimilar to The Raconteurs or The White Stripes, a prominent Jack White presence remains through. The vocal hooks steal the song, especially at the closing of the track with the lyrics, “Once again I find myself, I find myself alone in the darkness” seeing the song off.
‘Run Like Mad’ has a real Texas groove in the veins of artists like ZZ Top and Stevie Ray Vaughn, with a whisky soaked tinge to the lyrics this will surely go down a storm live. ‘Stories From The Road’ has another soft and clean approach, with some swamp blues vibes influenced by the genre’s pioneers such as Robert Johnson. The bass becomes more prominent in the foundation of this track when all the instruments join in, which leaves me to wonder if it will translate as powerful live as it does on the studio track. Regardless, the great production of this album shines through yet again on this track and with it clocking in at nearly nine minutes the song keeps you on the edge of every note, anticipating the end yet praying for it not to come.
Hold Your Fire brings the attitude back and is my favourite song on the album, expertly timed song break after the intro that makes the main riff so much more impactful especially with the pounding heavy beats from the drummer Maxime Conan. Whichever member is delivering the vocals on this track has a slightly more aggressive and harsh approach and it’s catchy as hell. The title track ‘Midday Moonlight’ is by far the heaviest riff on the intro, with a stripped back approach to the drums and some heavy trills on the guitar riff from Alexis Datiguelongue resonating a slight Tony Iommi influence. The track stays largely heavy throughout, keeping that slightly grizzled vocal approach.
Even with a lack of a bass player, Blackbird Hill have released a great EP in ‘Midday Moonlight’. From the title tracks, to the album art to the actual songs themselves, the french duo has delivered an EP I’ll be revisiting a lot throughout this Spring and Summer I expect.
Check out the video for ‘Midday Moonlight’