Eclectic, that’s the word. Mitch Laddie and his band from the North East of England are not one-trick ponies. Laddie clearly knows his Hendrix, but isn’t in thrall to him. Vocally he’s at ease with soulful and funky, but can give it a bit oomph, too. He can throw in some jazzy tweaks that suggest Steely Dan, but balance that with blues rock grit. And he can get rootsy, but can do it with a dash of imagination.
The instrumental “Portfolio” is a microcosm of this diversity, a portmanteau of styles as it opens with sprightly jazziness over an offbeat drum pattern, before decelerating into a spare, quirky middle section and then picking up into a full throttle, country twangin’ conclusion. The rest of Another World is similarly kaleidoscopic.
The ghost of Jimi attends the opening “Home”, which with stuttering riffing, and squealing, layered soloing recalls the likes of “Crosstown Traffic”, while “Burning” conjures up a Hendrixy storm of channel-switching wah-wah out of crashing, squeaking chords. But the latter builds over a stuttering rhythm from drummer Matt Connor that evokes Free or Bad Company, and the same kind of vibe is present in “Believer”, with a steady, lazy beat underpinning Laddie as he bends his voice towards Paul Rodgers-style grit. Which is good going, because Laddie’s voice is naturally more light and airy, and with his phrasing is a perfect fit for the cool, jazzy funk of “Wrong Place, Wrong Time”, and for “Precarious Man” with its bubbling bass from Rhian Wilkinson and horn punctuation. On “Forget About You” this tends more towards the classic blues of BB and Albert King, loose-limbed and soulful over walking bass from Wilkinson and more horns. Closer “Time And Time Again” slows down the soul, squeezing out mellow, FX-treated guitar tones and building tension through confidently repeated phrasing.
But elsewhere Laddie and co demonstrate their facility with rootsy blues, on “The Weight” with Laddie’s acoustic guitar played out over stripped-down percussion while he gets down to some testifyin’, and on the groaning-and-moaning “Living Blues” – and they convince on those too.
Now and then I might wish for a song to have a stronger hook. But holding all of the above together, and holding the listener’s attention, is a tribute to the abilities of Mitch Laddie and his compadres. Another World is a strong compendium of material that deserves attention.
The Review: 8/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Wrong Place, Wrong Time
– Forget About You
The Big Hit
Review by Iain Cameron