The Jujubes – Raging Moon
This is my first exposure to the Jujubes, a trio from Southeast London via Scotland, Nottingham and Hackney. Following on the heels of a debut album with eight songs, Raging Moon gives the listener six originals and four covers to sample. The trio with vocals, a pair of guitars and some harp added here and there are unique and strive to keep the blues genre alive in the UK.
The Jujubes are Nikki Brooks on vocals, Sandy Michie on guitar, bass, and banjo, Pete Sim on slide and acoustic guitars, and OC Thomas adds drums and percussion. Nikki, Sandy and Pete are the band’s core. The band handles backing vocals here and there and Brooks offers up some whistles and other sounds, too.
This sophomore release begins with the classic “Wang Dang Doodle,” which gets a bit of an attitude adjustment. Brooks sings with a sultry fierceness and the slide work is dirty and cool. It’s an interesting start! “Crocodile” follows, an original with more slide, banjo and a slow, breathy lead vocals that makes this slow blues really different. “You Ain’t So Bad” is another cut with lots of attitude displayed by Brooks and offers a slick groove that grabs at the listener. The guitar solo work is well done, too, and the tune builds climatically and ends with interesting abruptness.. The traditional “True Religion” follows, done as a moving ballad that is stripped down, using no percussion. “The Last Thing” is next, a driving original track with some nasty vocals and slide that exude dark feelings as the guitars and instruments build to a crescendo of darkness.
Bukka White’s “High Fever Blues” opens the second half of the CD. Brooks again approaches this with a minimal approach and sultriness; it’s her and two acoustic guitars that share in the mix. The slide playing and finger picking is well done. Big Bill Broonzy’s “Somebody’s Got To Go” follows that, and Brooks offers more sultry vocals and Sim gives us a lot more delightful slide to savor; well done! “The Devil’s Gonna Get You” is another traditional piece and the harp and percussion are really cool and nicely done. It’s got a hill country goes modern vibe with some deep slide and just a great sound overall. Brooks sings and even raps a bit; this is a novel take on the cut, for sure! “Make Me Cry” and “Something More” are the final cuts, both originals. The former offers the listener more breathy vocals in a down tempo beat; it’s thoughtful and pensive in feeling. The latter is the closest to an upbeat cut, with Pete adding some highly expressive la steel to the mix. It’s a fine close to an overall interesting and well done set of tunes that grow on the listener with each listen.
This is a dark and often brooding set of tunes. There’s not anything here that is truly upbeat, nor is it intended to be. The Jujubes deliver a dark, down and dirty set of tunes that grab at the listener and moves them. There is a seminal and deep set of emotions that run from song to song. It’s not your mama’s blues, for sure, but it’s different and interesting stuff. If you are looking for something a little different, then this is certainly something you should load up and give a spin to!
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