Following on from her last album, 2016’s Believe, Rebecca Downes has released the follow-up, putting it out on her own label, Mad Hat Records. The title track ‘Believe’ won the accolade of Song of the Year at the 2016 British Blues Awards, so she’s set her own bar high for the follow-up.
Rebecca Downes is an artist said to be a blues singer, and she was nominated for the category of Best Blues vocalist of the year in 2018. But there’s precious little evidence of the Blues on this album. There’s little doubt she can really sing, and she’s on her way to becoming one of the “You’ve gotta see…” artists on the UK blues-rock circuit. If Rod Stewart was still playing the kind of music which made his name circa late sixties-early seventies, she’d be a perfect opening act for him. She’s blessed with a powerful set of pipes and she can belt the tunes out. Witness her performance on ‘Hurts’ off this new album. But her voice is so much more than just this. She’s certainly bluesy tinged with some of the songs on this album, but it’d be fair to say this latest album is far more grounded in rock than blues. She’s similar to Joe Bonamassa, who also claims to come from the blues, but whose albums are riven with blazing rock guitar work which has little apparent connection with the blues.
The album begins with ‘Take Me Higher’, which is a straight-ahead rocker, as are ‘If I Go To Sleep’ and ‘Big Sky’. This is followed by two slower songs; ‘Chains Fall Down’ and power ballad ‘Screaming Your Name’. She doesn’t lack for famous friends to come along and give her a hand. Magnum’s Tony Clarkin does so on ‘Breathe Out’, playing a beautifully understated guitar solo. Following this is ‘Wave Them Goodbye’ which has a Keith Richards bluesy groove to it. But title track ‘More Sinner Than Saint’ is one of the highlights of the album, which opens slowly and building in intensity as it progresses.
If you’re just interested in a woman seeped in the blues, maybe Beth Hart or Joanne Shaw Taylor would be more to your taste. But if you want a female singer who has a voice which can be subtle, soulful and seductive, but also capable of real power, and who injects passion and energy into her music, listen out for Rebecca Downes.