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

Never mind Brexit this is the European Union, in session the Hillbilly Moon Explosion features two Englishmen currently residing in Switzerland A French Drummer and one Italian/Swiss to round it off oh and a guest from Deepest darkest Welsh Wales. Mixing up an eclectic blend of Roots Rock and Roll, some Dark Rock, a punk attitude at times with a healthy or should that be unhealthy dose of Rockabilly and throw in some swing, soul, ska, garage and pop  – I kid you not this really is a melting pot that can go anywhere they like and still come out sounding cohesive and well, bloody magic.

The ‘Sparky Sessions’ is the bands seventh album, yup I know what you’re thinking, I wasn’t sure how many I have either; a few but seven is remarkable. A band this good can’t go under the mainstream radar for so long (when I say so long the sixteen million views on youtube aren’t all bots I guess).  When I say mainstream, I mean I told a few people who I was listening to and they shrugged their shoulders, these are people who listen to a lot of underground music of all persuasions and they’d never heard the band.  So strap yourselves in and join me on a journey into the magic sprinkled ‘Sparky Sessions’ courtesy of The Hillbilly Moon Explosion.

What we have here is a whole long player of duets featuring the guest vocals of the one and only Mark Phillips he of the Demented Are Go parish here in South Wales. After dueting on the murder ballad from 2011’s ‘Beg Steal Or Borrow’ to be fair nobody in their right mind would have mixed the oil and water of Phillips vocal style with that of Emanuela Hutters – but it works and the choice of songs is inspired.  Forget Cave and Minogue or Jagger and Turner – its Phillips and Hutter that have the magic. This whole record will testify that from the rockers to the sultry smoldering murder ballads this is an exceptional piece of work. A magnificent eleven that is weaved into an exceptional record that is one of the finest I’ve heard all year thus far,  one I’m sure will be carried triumphantly into the end of year best of – easily.

 

The covers are stunning but the original songs stand shoulder to shoulder alongside such classics as ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ and ‘Baby I Love You’.  A total of seven new songs were recorded along with the four that had previously seen the light of day of the originals ‘Black Ghost’ builds and builds into a cacophony but it’s not the jarring racket but a harnessed noise that builds to an awesome climax.

 

It’s a bold and brave offering that has more than a sprinkling of magic throughout Hutter has a voice that can melt the ice caps of the north pole and Sparky has the vocal cords to rival a drilling from Thors hammer and put together it’s a beautiful thing brothers and sister trust me. ‘Northern Crown’ is smokey whilst ‘Jackson’ is just a total fuckin’ killer version.  I must have heard about a million covers of this one and this Hillbilly Moon Explosion take is head and shoulders the best yet even better than Carter and Cash in Fulsome Prison.  They absolutely take ownership and just kill it stone dead – sublime. and to end with that Murder Ballad ‘My Love For Evermore’ is still a spine-tingling classic that just works.

If there’s a better record released this month then I need to hear it but I seriously doubt it, folks, this is my album of the month maybe album of the summer – let’s see. Enough waffle from me pick it up and let the music do the talking this one just won’t shut up!  I only hope that this won’t be the end and one day like Skywalker on that mountain the Hillbilly Moon Explosion will come calling and Sparky will hear that call and once again record some new songs together but if that never happens (never say never) thank God we have this collection to live with. Love Songs And Murder Ballads a near-perfect collision of beauty and the beast, light and darkness.  Just buy it!

Author: Dom Daley

 

Buy the Sparky Sessions Here