Sidemen Dig In

This is an exceptional effort, recalling British blues at its most inventive — skin-tight rhythm, blistering guitar, haunting harp and explosive keyboards built around a central figure with enough swagger to pull it all off. Surely one spin of "Bye Bye, So Long" captures a funked-up rock spirit that refuses to quit. Paul Reddick is a man of a hundred voices: Fred Neil ("You Will Know"), John Mayall ("Night Came Down"), Stevie Winwood ("Seven Angels") to name a few. Yet this album is such a collective of styles and influences, it’s a truly esoteric outing. There are some stiff moments, such as "That Train" and "When You Call" where Reddick sounds like David Clayton-Thomas wallowing on the lounge circuit. The band's version of Son Seals' "Bad Axe" falls flat in the middle of a dated-sounding electric violin solo. Yet, the still-experimental sounds of Fergus Marsh's Chapman Stick, and the unique horn arrangements take the band off into exciting new turf. The Sidemen's rhythm is king throughout this album and special attention must be given to the guitar muscle of Kyle Ferguson, who can't play enough. The pure blues feel of Homesick James' "Driving Dog" and Muddy Waters' "You Gonna Need My Help" reveals the Sidemen's untapped well and greatest potential, but Dig In suggests there's lots of room to move in what we've come to expect from this talented local band. (Kingnote)