High Water I by Magpie SaluteRelease date: August 10, 2018
Label: Provogue/Mascot Label Group
After the Black Crowes Robinson brothers major band splitting fallout, guitarist Rich Robinson pursued a lower key couple of solo offerings while brother Chris’ delved straight into his surging psychedelic southern rock Chris Robinson Brotherhood. But, in 2016 Rich assembled a ten-piece outfit, Magpie Salute, for a string of shows at Woodstock followed by four shows at New York’s Gramercy in 2017. The response was so good they went out on a world tour along with their whetting the appetite live debut consisting of Black Crowes numbers and covers. Now trimmed to a six piece, but still consisting of two fellow former Crowes – guitarist Marc Ford and bassist Sven Pipien – they release their first album of all new material in the shape of High Water I.
What transpires are a flow of immediate waves, the first is the Rich Robinson and Marc Ford guitar interplay which hits like a refreshing cool sea breeze in the middle of the hottest, energy sapping heatwave. Hearing rock rousing stompers ‘Mary the gypsy’, ‘Send me an Omen’, the swaggering ‘For the wind’, and ‘Can you see’, all filled with classic Crowes classy rock and groove power are extremely welcoming. Remember, this is the nearest we’re going to get to hearing the classic Black Crowes sound, and these songs don’t disappoint.
Another noticeable highlight is Londoner John Hogg’s versatile vocals, who sounds like he is relishing adding his own creative flourishes to the new material. Coming across sounding a tad like the Charlatans Tim Burgess on ‘Mary the gypsy’, through to adding full on gutsy, soulful passion on ‘Send me an omen’ via a more, gentle lower end croon on ‘Walk on water’ helps to provide additional flexing out of the Magpie Salute sound.
Another wave of inspiration are the interspersed album’s slow burners, which expand the band’s horizons into rootsier paths with the Jayhawks esque ‘Sister moon’, soothing country blues ‘Open up’, this reviewer’s current favourite ‘Color blind’, and the mellow acoustic country waltz of ‘You found me’. While there is a dip into psych country with the title track, and even a camp fire, good time, shindig in ‘Hand in hand.’ These may turn out to be the album’s longer term highlights and one wonders if these will form their future endeavours on a greater level.
And the good news is we won’t have too long to find out, with the promise of High Water II already in the bag and scheduled for a 2019 release. Let’s hope The Magpie Salute burst of activity has longevity because High Water I deliver’s, on the promise of their live debut.