The Heavy - The House That Dirt Built
Wander between pubs on a Friday night and you can guarantee two things: huddles of smokers blocking the entrance and a least one venue will contain a substandard blues band playing the songs from The Commitments. Through years of butchering by these weekend rockers and seemingly endless Simon Cowell-hosted, televised karaoke contests the soul classics have bewilderingly become tarnished.
At first glance it’s easy to file The Heavy in with the bad Commitments rip offs, but with further scrutiny there seems to be some genuine soul on display and they may even be capable of knocking out some classics of their own. Like many illustrious bands their talents spin around many axis. They have an extremely solid rhythm section and they also have a great singer in Kelvin Swaby - although he’s not always as good as he seems to think he is. The occasional pointless vocal theatrics expose weaknesses in the voice on tracks like ‘No Time’ but when he’s just singing the notes he can be amazing. He has an astonishing range and the heart of a lion that sears through and brands the material with his unique moniker. With such solid foundations whatever musical direction they choose to take is in safe hands.
James Brown is not only in the house on ‘How You Like Me Now’, he’s brought an overnight bag and slippers, fizzing with enough chutzpah to be a serious soul contender. ‘Love Like That’ could come from any era, with its timeless, brass-heavy soul vibe teamed with old school production. Taking the ska path is ‘Cause For Alarm’, managing to keep it discrete and not allowing the tempo to run away with itself and turn into The Ordinary Boys.
They save the very best for last with ‘Stuck’, possibly named after the fact that once the beautiful melody entrenches itself into your brain you’ll be whistling it for days. Kelvin turns in a performance like a less hyperactive David McAlmont. Pushing the top of his range he doesn’t overdo it, just hits each note cleanly and with conviction delivering their career high.
They are the real deal. You can call off the search for the young soul rebels, we might just have found them.