Best Blues album 2017 : SNAKECHARMER – Second Skin (2017)
End of the year / beginning of 2018, it’s time to recap about the best 2017 releases, by category.
While not strictly a Blues album, SNAKECHARMER fuse like no-other the genre’s deep emotion with charming melodies and rocking riffs.
Frontiers Music released in 2017 SNAKECHARMER‘s sophomore album, “Second Skin“. The British super-group delivered a delightful debut three years ago, and they returned with another great slice of classic bluesy hard rock, even stronger than before.
Snakecharmer was originally founded in 2011 by former Whitesnake members Micky Moody and Neil Murray along with the perfect mix of high-caliber musicians, including Laurie Wisefield (Wishbone Ash), Harry James (Thunder, Magnum), Adam Wakeman (Ozzy Osbourne), and Chris Ousey (Heartland, Viginia Wolf).
In 2016, Moody left the band for a solo career, and the band’s new recruit – respected blues circuit hotshot Simon McBride – matches the calibre of founding members, playing some delicious riffs and slides.
Snakecharmer have maintained their Whitesnake heritage over the years, and “Second Skin” is just another highly enjoyable romp through bombastic ’80s bluesy hard rock.
The album opens with ‘Sounds Like A Plan,’ and there is no denying what you’re gonna get over the next hour or so. Dripping in class, from the powerhouse vocals of Chris Ousey to the six-string duo of Laurie Wisefield and Simon McBride on guitar, the snakes start things very hot.
‘That Kinda Love’ continues the theme with its ‘80s AOR midtempo, smoother vocals and great atmospheres. A favorite of mine.
The classic British, bluesy infused hard comes in the hand of ‘I’ll Take You As You Are’, ‘Fade Away’, and ‘Forgive & Forget’. But it’s also found in ‘Where Do We Go From Here’, with it’s smoldering smooth start that leads to a rising crescendo.
Also adding to the bluesy hard rock feeling is well-placed old school swirling Hammond organ found in many songs. It gives the Snakecharmer an earthy warm sound, something akin to Seventies blues hard rock.
‘Are You Ready To Fly’ is a great example of guitar and heavy Hammond organ work, much like Deep Purple circa 1985, and of course, classic Whitesnake.
‘Hell Of A Way To Live’ is indeed a hell of a way to make a rock song. I’m liking the intro vocals, an original guitar line, and a catchy chorus.
“Second Skin” has the perfect balance of gritty, muscular guitar riffs, bluesy nuances and sumptuous vocals to turn any Classic Rock lovers head. It oozes class throughout and ticks all the boxes required to transport you back in time.
The album flows effortlessly across its 11 tracks, each track perfectly executed delivered in a rich, blues-laden classy hard rock nuance, very well produced and with some superb performance, especially from Chris Ousey.
01 – Sounds Like a Plan
02 – That Kind of Love
03 – Are You Ready to Fly
04 – Follow Me Under
05 – I’ll Take You as You Are
06 – Hell of a Way to Live
07 – Fade Away
08 – Dress It Up
09 – Punching Above My Weight
10 – Forgive & Forget
11 – Where Do We Go from Here
Chris Ousey – vocals
Laurie Wisefield – guitar
Simon McBride – guitar
Adam Wakeman – keyboards
Neil Murray – bass
Harry James – drums