LEE SMALL – Jamaica Inn (2012)
Fresh from his sterling vocal performance on last year’s excellent self-titled Shy album, Lee Small makes a splash with this solo album: “Jamaica Inn”.
He has previously sung with other bands including Cloven Hoof, Pride and appears on forthcoming albums from Phenomena and Gypsy Rose (two of the band – Martin Kronlund and Imre Daun – guest on this album).
Here he makes a complete change of direction, as apart from the melodic hard rocker “Walk The Plank”, this album is much more a hard blues / classic rock affair. And a really good one.
“Jamaica Inn” reminds me a lot of Paul Rodgers and Glenn Hughes solo albums and in fact Lee Small’s vocals at times recall Rodgers / Hughes. Lee has a superb, hugely versatile voice and he suits the laid-back nature of these songs beautifully.
The album features meaty, high quality blues guitar from Martin Kronlund, proving he can adjust to any style necessary, and a tight performance of Imre Daun on drums (Don Patrol, Gypsy Rose) and Paul Bradder on keyboards (Saracen).
The opener and title track is a rockin’, solid bluesy song that sets the mood for what comes. The little shots of wailing lead are well supported by moody organ at times and Small’s vocal has depth and richness. Most of the lyrics are delivered with a subtle sense of consideration as if he is really pausing for thought.
Small really has a huge voice, matching the passion of Hughes on the sloulful “The Captain’s Quarters”.
“Black Bess” actually pushes the blues towards a sort of upbeat heavy-funk vibe and it’s a nice change of direction before “Walk The Plank” cranks it back up and is vaguely reminiscent of Zeppelin’s ‘Rock and Roll’, albeit slower.
“Dead Man Walking” is perhaps the pick of the album, with a soulful vocal to die for a nice little melodic riff running alongside it.
The slow mood of the choir on “I Am The Sea” is excellent and a nice bit of variety to an already subtly varied selection of songs.
The final track “The Renegade Accordion Player” sees an accordion sample rendition of a famous Kansas song. Nice touch.
“Jamaica Inn” is a lovely and strong bluesy rock album with some good variety thrown in.
The voice of Lee Small signs in this release. He’s ultra melodic and sanitary while he does expose a great level of sentimental singing too. The players have clearly given a lot of their own input, being Martin Kronlund the star amongst them, a man who does not stop to surprise us.
The production (handled by Kronlund) is crisp and well defined, serving both the bluesy and melodic as well as the more rock-oriented aspects of the album really well, and definitely contributes to the listening pleasure.
01 – Jamaica Inn
02 – The Captain’s Quarters
03 – Black Bess
04 – Walk The Plank
05 – Shine A Light
06 – Dead Man Walking
07 – Voyager
08 – I Am The Sea
09 – Smuggler’s Blues
10 – Waiting For The Hangman
11 – End Of The Road
12 – The Renegade Accordion Player
Lee Small (SHY, Phenomena): Lead Vocals
Martin Kronlund: Guitars, Bass
Carl Anthony Wright – Guitar
Des Sherwood – Guitar
Paul Bradder (Saracen): Keyboards
Imre Daun (Don Patrol, Gypsy Rose): Drums
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