With some bands, you always know that a new album is worth the wait. It’s been five years since ‘The Sparky Sessions’, around the same time that I finally got to see them live. My final gig prior to the pandemic, and thankfully it was every bit as great as anticipated.

‘Back In Time’ sees the variety and class that we’ve come to expect from the band. ‘Sometimes Late At Night’ swaggers from the speakers, style and substance personified. Emanuela smolders as only she can on ‘Summerlove’, like the blackest velvet. As with many of their songs, it could easily be the soundtrack to a film noir classic.

‘Knocked Down’ you may already be familiar with, as the first video from the album. Oliver’s lead vocal is as smooth as ever, next to his slap bass and Emanuela’s ethereal backing vocals, while Duncan pulls all the right sounds from his Gretsch. ‘1979’ veers towards classic Blondie, clearly a good thing when you can pull it off with panache. Ideally, this would be playing on your radio on a regular basis.

‘I Live In My Head’ was made for dancing too, hopefully, we’ll get the chance again soon at a club near you. Short and sweet. ‘Sudden Ring’ is another fine, slow song from Emanuela, she makes it all sound effortless. In a word, seductive. ‘Jet Fuel Rock N Roll’ brings back the boogie to get your boots moving, and ‘Let’s Go (Back In Time)’ has a hypnotic, Cramps-style rhythm that you rarely hear anymore.

‘Nothing Takes The Place Of You’ appears to be the only cover version, proving that the band can take a reggae song and put their own stamp on it. ‘Always Just You’ sounds like an Elvis ballad, with Duncan’s guitar picking following Emanuela’s vocal melody, and ‘Death By My Side’ introduces some gothic country to the mix. Reminiscent of The Phantom Chords at their best.

‘Reno’ by Emanuela ends the album on a classy note, the tune seemingly already familiar, yet it sounds fresh and new. Class never dates, and The Hillbilly Moon Explosion never let you down. Long may they continue.

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Author: Martin Chamarette