hey Negrita - Burn The Whole Place Down

Enjoying the experience of recording acoustic material for the BBC, hey Negrita decided to formalize things by popping into the studio for a five hour session, the highlights of which are captured here. The album subtitle ('A Real Live Acoustic Smoke Out') gives a hint at the sounds within.

The zydeco-tinged opener 'Burn The Whole Place Down' typifies their good-time vibes and the intimacy of the recording process has served frontman Felix Bechtolsheimer and his colleagues well. This is the sound of a group of friends playing the music they love just for the hell of it. Will Greener steals the show on 'Room Service', his harmonica licks also supporting 'Rope', another highlight and a tale of regret built on banjos and Greener's melodic phrasing. The other jauntier tracks are a little interchangeable: less of an issue in the live environment but somewhat samey at home. This is, however, country and roots influenced music - and the familiar chord changes and melodic shapes are part of the pleasure. Of the slower material, 'Kathmandu' is the obvious winner, letting Bechtolsheimer's voice carry this tale of confusion, even daring to rhyme the title with 'kazoo'.

Some will be reminded of Mark Knopfler or Chris Rea's forays into rootsier material, and a low-key release like this is unlikely to break out of the constituency already aware of their work, but for those already under the spell Burn The Whole Place ... is a smooth companion to a campfire, some friends and a solid slug of bourbon.

Overall

6

out of 10

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