Buck & Evans

2020

This could be my Blues/Rock album of the year for 2018 or 2019, if not both! It was originally crowd funded, but Pledge Music went bust and took all those funds with them; undeterred, the band felt an obligation to its fans and self released the music at its own expense in late 2018. After relentlessly touring to finance the fulfilment of all pledges, the band re-released the album, complete with a bonus track, at the end of 2019; many fans have been happy to buy both versions, such is the mutual loyalty and love between them and the band.

Originally formed as a makeshift duo of Chris Buck (guitar) and Sally Ann Evans (vocals & keyboards) for a one-off gig, the addition of Dominic Hill (bass) and Bob Richards (drums) has transformed the unit from South Wales into a hard working and much loved Blues/Rock mini-institution. In short, one of those bands whose gigs and recordings you don’t want to miss.

One day someone will get to ask the members about their musical backgrounds, as they seem to have sprung from nowhere, with the exception of Bob, whose CV includes stints with AC/DC and veteran Welsh Prog rockers Man. This relative obscurity is hard to explain, given that Chris is one of the finest guitarists on the current scene and Sally Ann’s powerful vocals are equally memorable.

The album opens with ‘Slow Train’, whose guitar outro and catchy vocal refrain make it a live favourite, and follows it with the ballad tempo ‘Change’; it is a measure of Chris’ taste and restraint that someone who can play so much guitar is content to play so little in service of the ballad.

‘Sunrise’ sees Sally Ann’s soaring vocal follow Dominic’s snaking bass lines, while both of them are in fine, soulful form on ‘Sinking’; Chris provides great guitar outros for both songs. Anyone wishing to dip in for a taste of just how powerful Sally Ann’s vocals can be should check out ‘Back To Yesterday’.

The true strength of any band’s sound lies in the rhythm section and Dominic and Bob lock in together hand in glove; their light, tasteful work on ‘Trail Of Tears’ is a good example of how less can be more. If that doesn’t sound like a natural description for a AC/DC drummer, then perhaps it will give an indication of Bob’s versatility.

‘Ain’t No Moonlight’ is funkier, with the voice and keyboards having more than a hint of Gospel about them, while ‘Going Home’s big vocal makes it another live favourite. ‘One Four’ has been added to the reissue as a bonus track.

If you haven’t yet heard Buck & Evans, you’ll want to put that right; and if you get the chance to buy this album, you won’t regret it.

Slow Train; Change; Sunrise; Sinking; Common Ground; Back To Yesterday; Fix You; Trail Of Tears; Ain’t No Moonlight; Going Home; (bonus track) One Four.

Gary Smith

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