Edinburgh's Dead Beat Club is one of Bluesbunny's favourite live acts. It was with some trepidation, therefore, that we approached this review of their first album "Random Heartfelt Trinkets". Could they match that live magic in the studio environment?
Lead singer Andy Tucker has one of those great country soul voices and he has undertaken all the song writing duties here as well. He has a neat way with words and paints pictures of ordinary people and their lives. "Broken Heels" takes us down that potholed yellow brick road that passes as the path to love these days. He's a sentimental guy obviously but, even so, he does not shy away from tackling thornier issues such as alcoholism in "My Drunk Girlfriend". The songs might have themes familiar from country music but the settings are definitely the big city. Our favourites were the melancholy yet hypnotic "Man Overboard" and the catchy "Sidetracked".
So far, so good then. The songs work well, the performances are confident but Bluesbunny is left wondering about the production. This proved to be the weakpoint of the album. The magic of the Dead Beat Club lies in the vocal interplay between Andy Tucker and Shona Brodie but the arrangements and production lose this with only "The Pact" and "Have You Always Been Around?" capturing some of that sparkle. On too many of the tracks, Dead Beat Club sound like they are singing over a Dropkick backing track. This is probably no surprise as the album is produced by Dropkick's multi instrumentalist Andrew Taylor. Perhaps that is a key point. A producer should bring some objectivity to the proceedings so that we, the listener, get to hear the band at their best. With so much competition these days in the marketplace, it is vital that a band get to establish their sonic identity and this has not happened here. However, the songs alone make this album worthy of a listen.