Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective

Diff’rent Gravy

(3ms Music)

One of the independent acts under the 3ms Music banner, this ensemble has singer and guitarist Williams as spearhead and stars harpist Nick Garner, guitarist Dave Milligan, son Jake Milligan as bassist and drummer Paul Madden. Jamie has a stockpile of own songs. The entire record has no shallow nods to trendiness or fashion, but centres on skilful band playing.

Starting cut Little Black Book bursts into life with pattering drums and Bo-style stops plus ringing guitar motifs. One guitar sounds bright, the other more snarly – as this genre demands. The harp wails in and out of the backdrop much in the manner of Fontana-era Pretty Things. The vocal is persistent and the overall sound dense. Reminds me of The Bo Street Runners.

On to I Don’t Wanna Break My Baby’s Heart is strident and the vocal close to early Van, I am sure Them are an influence. The ensemble sound is crisp and focussed. One Man Mission To Mars goes for a reflective acoustic ambience. The song rolls along pleasantly in an almost Lemonheads mode, the harp has a touch of chorus and the singing is relaxed but steady. Next up Lonesome Howl From The Heart mines Muddy and Reed with some neat slide, sounds like a stage favourite, prolonged resolve and all. Needs some Johnny Johnson style piano!

Godsend brings us springheeled guitar chording and a lovely acoustic-electric blend. The lyric is somewhat confessional and the vocal easily one of the best and clearest on the set. Thumbs up on this number. Baddass And Lazy has Creedence guitar on a solemn riff, vocal a bit mixed back. The song is superior with a touch of mystery. Reaching For The Stars sounds unbearably sad, tons of reverb on the instruments which sound ethereal. The song then settles into a lost soul vibe with singing to suit. Saved is a slow and steady and has that Tom Petty-Americana atmosphere, the harp floating above in a cloud of delay.

Bastard County sounds like a grim football team in a minor League but is a folky tune, trotting along in traditional way, warm singing and a sitting by the railway track ambience. Sardonic lyrics, which work for the song. Banjo in there? and what sounds like a G harp. Next is Voodoo Man which pumps along with compressed energy but a hackneyed chord progression. Clearly a setlist-must for its impact, created by the tight bass and drums. We finish with Understand which sounds heavenly and again a tad Van, the tremelo’d guitar and building arrangement enhancing that impression.

The overall impression of this album is that these sharp players know exactly what they are doing. If you have fond memories of The Kursaal Flyers, Ducks De Luxe and Help Yourself these chaps are certainly flying the flag.

Pete Sargeant


(Thanks to Chris Hewlett)

Jamie Williams And The Roots Collective's new album 'Diff'rent Gravy' is out now on 3MS Music on CD and limited edition vinyl. 

For more information and to purchase the album you can visit the band's official website here: http://bit.ly/2tZjqgI

Jamie Williams