Black Cat Biscuit – The Way It Is
Naked Records – 2022
12 tracks; 43 minutes
This is the second album by Belgian combo Black Cat Biscuit, all original songs written and sung in English and played in convincing blues style, often in the Chicago tradition, though they do pay visits to other blues heritages like the Mississippi Delta. The band is Bart ‘Yasser’ Arnauts on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Mark ‘Mr Mighty’ Sepanski on harmonica and backing vocals, Raffe Claes on lead guitar and backing vocals, Patrick ‘P Daddy’ Indestege on bass (acoustic and electric) and backing vocals and Jeff ‘Junior’ Gijbels on drums. Recorded, mixed and produced by Tim De Graeve, the songs were recorded in one take with no overdubs.
The title track leads off played at a fast clip with the harp to the fore as vocalist Bart suggests that we should all accept things as they are and be content with our lot and Raffe takes a nicely poised solo. The band suggests that we should “Let The Blues Heal You”, the rhythm very much in the Chicago tradition and the harp wailing impressively. “Say Hello To Godot” is an odd title and it is hard to understand where the reference to Samuel Beckett’s absurd play fits in but as a blues tune it works well with a loping rhythm and some fine guitar work. After Godot we are invited to greet “Dr Boogie”, prefaced by a short spoken intro that sounds like an old radio commercial before the band hits its stride and it is impossible to keep still to the music, a great cut. “What You Say” uses the jagged rhythms of early Billy Boy Arnold tunes like “Ain’t Got You” and features an excellent solo from Raffe while “Heart Is Burning” slows things down as we head to Mississippi with drone-like rhythm guitar, minimal embellishment from the harp and some strong slide work, the rhythm section remaining in the background.“Madame Zola” may be a fortune teller in a gypsy caravan but musically we are back in Chicago with strong harp work over a lump-de-lump rhythm.
A semi-spoken lyric over a classic rhythm introduces the song with the wittiest title, “Mean Is Just An Average” before a bright and breezy “What Goes Around Comes Around”, a bouncing tune with slide and harp riding the rhythm. A slinky “Wheels” finds Bart heading out for a drive in what is clearly his pride and joy before the extremely catchy “Don’t Need Your Love No More” and album closer “Two Seconds Man” which may be the shortest track in length but packs a real punch as the band rocks out.
Nothing new here but twelve well played, solid originals. I think that an evening in the company of Black Cat Biscuit would be a guaranteed good time – I shall look out for them on my travels in Europe!
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