Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Hazy Malaze - Blackout Love [2005] / Connections [2010]

No Malaise Here

Neal Casal's solo work is something I need to explore more, his 70s singer/songwriter proclivities obviously playing to my own, though he obviously creates whilst I listen.

There's nothing hazy about Casal's pedigree: from his solo career, to playing guitar for the Cardinals in support of Ryan Adams, then to his other dalliances with Shannon McNally and Tift Merrit, and most recently joining the Chris Robinson Brotherhood. Another 'sideline' is his band Hazy Malaze with drummer Dan Fadel and bassist Jeff Hill, this trio playing sublime rock and soul.

Blackout Love is the more soulful of the two with opener Everything full of funk and hip harmony. Second Looking Out For You has the tightest rhythm working its funk'n'harmony, stabbed guitar chords like an hypnotic pulse. Third Dirty Summer celebrates its rock roots a la Radar Love. Stand-out track is fifth Bust It Down which is Richards' Rolling Stones par excellence and exemplifies Casal's stated ambition to play like Keith. Get down. This album oozes cool.

The recent Connections is more rock and roll and just as much fun. Opener Get Free is punkrock in its pace. Next two On The Tarmac and Connections take the blues as their cue for harmonica and slide moves. Fifth Can't Just Give It Away reminds us that the funk groove hasn't been jettisoned: some sweet singing on this one too. These are two superb albums from an artist spreading himself around with aplomb. I look forward to his imminent solo work Sweeten The Distance, due for release here in a week's time.

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