THE DIRTY ACES From The Basement

V2 Records

THE DIRTY ACES From The Basement

The much-anticipated new record from Giles Robson and his band is here at last. The teaser EP Sinnin’ Gainst Me came out about a year ago, offering glimpses of exciting things to come. Some won’t hear this as a blues album, but it’s essential music for harmonica fans. The Dirty Aces create a polished modern backing with space for Giles to weave in and out with sharp signature licks and fiery solos.

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Like the previous record, From The Basement is full of catchy hooks and again the songs use punchy emphatic repetition of a chorus lyric or lick – if a line is good it bears repeating. Good harp tone is a product of the player rather than the instrument. Giles’ tone is exceptionally good and it’s captured perfectly on this record. It’s warm and clear but with a little edgy bite – sort of clean-but-dirty. Giles uses standard Marine Band and Special20 harps out-of-the-box (none of that obsessive tuning and tweaking), and rather than relying on gritty overdriven amps that many harp players favour, his edge comes from playing technique.

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If the meat of Giles’ harp work is the signature licks, then the Specials on the menu are the solos. They twist and turn and flick, Giles brandishing his iron like a samurai sword slashing through a web of Christmas lights, sparks flying everywhere. There is nice guitar work throughout, it’s the kind of understated complementary rhythm and riffing you might find on a Charlie Musselwhite or Jason Ricci album, but there are several great guitar solos too. My favourite tune is still the rocking, exciting Ain’t No Forgetting.

It’s like those Canvey Island boys reborn for the 21st century – perfect modern British RnB.

ANDY ‘HONEYBOY’ SMITH