‘The Divine And Dirty’ is the first of what will hopefully be many albums that The Kris Barras Band deliver for the mighty Mascot Label Group. The home of modern blues has an impressive roster of acts that need no introduction, but in case you are unfamiliar with The Kris Barras Band, here you go: Hailing from Torquay, the band take their name from guitarist/vocalist Kris Barras who, although is a young chap, has decades of playing live. The band have previously released music, but this is the first major release. Barras himself has some instructional videos up on YouTube from a few years back, where he has a haircut that resembles Jay from The Inbetweeners, but considering that he is also a MMA fighter, you fucking point that one out!
Dodgy barnet behind him, Barras has been gaining plaudits thanks to his Southern-tinged blues rock which hints at a birthplace anywhere but the English Riviera. Opening track ‘Kick Me Down’ has a lovely, smouldering vibe that makes the hairs stand on end, especially when the female gospel-like vocals seep through the heavy keyboards. Damn, it’s good to hear the keyboards so high up in the mix, very atmospheric. ‘Hail Mary’ features more of them, and it’s obvious that the keys are crucial to the overall sound of the band. Barras has quite a clean voice that in places does remind me of Jon Bon Jovi, ‘Blaze Of Glory’ or ‘Keep The Faith’ Jon. I realise that ‘lil ole Jon is quite polarising, but Barras has the same blue-collar vocal style that New Jersey’s third or fourth favourite son favours. Musically, ‘The Divine And Dirty’ is a mixed bag of styles. ‘I Don’t Owe Nobody Nothing’ is a gritty little number that would find a home amongst fans of Seasick Steve, ‘Propane’ is much glossier with a Chris Rea-style cool breeze guitar sound, the shuffling ‘Wrong Place, Wrong Time’ is finger-clicking good, and ‘Lovers Or Losers’ highlights the JBJ ‘Blaze Of Glory’ thread. ‘She’s More Than Enough’ has a sweet slide guitar sound, so much so I would love to hear an extended version of this bad boy with way more guitar.
What about the ballads, I hear you ask? Well, they would be ‘Hold On For Tomorrow’ and ‘Watching Over Me’ then. The former grows on me with each listen, while the latter had me at hello. It might be the Gary Moore-esque playing from Barras that pleases so much, or maybe the way that it slowly builds into an epic seven minuter, or could it be more of those lush backing vocals? Whatever it is, ‘Watching Over Me’ gets the trophy for stand out track. Simply spellbinding.
‘The Divine and Dirty’ is available now through Mascot Label Group. The Kris Barras Band are on tour throughout April. All tour dates can be found here.