Over the past couple of years, Kent based blues rockers Big River have really grown as a band. Their early singles suggested a lot of musical weight, but not always much long-term substance. That was more than fine for some listeners, obviously; those who love big riffs instinctively seemed to like Big River from the get go and the lads never shirked in terms of commitment.
Those early tracks were fun in their own way, but really didn’t come close to matching the album’s best moments where more melodic tracks like ‘You Are My Sun’ showed off a much stronger side to Adam Bartholomew’s voice and the Cats In Space-ish ‘Dancing With The Devil’ unleashed a previously unheard talent for a classic rock/AOR hybrid sound.
The first fruits of their second album presents a massive leap in songwriting abilities and production values. The single ‘Why Should I?’ sort of picks up where ‘Dancing With The Devil’ left off, with its massive Black Star Riders inflected chorus hook and timeless sounding rock riff. Within the hard edged AOR grooves, Bartholomew sounds completely comfortable, suggesting further growth as a vocalist, while bassist Ant Wellman is never shy in underscoring the main melody with a few complex bass fills. His contributions are clearer than ever thanks to a much better overall production and mix (courtesy of Jim Riley, although the band will be working with Mike Bennett, known for his work with artists as diverse as The Fall and Wishbone Ash in the near future) and the track really demonstrates how tight he and drummer Joe Martin are as a rhythm section.
There’s somewhat of a feeling that the lighter style gives guitarist Damo Fawsett much less to do, but his contributions are solid enough, and if you’re concerned about his taking more of a back seat on the track, the featured solo is a great exercise in how to fill a few bars in a sharp but melodic fashion. The track has supposedly split fan opinion, but there’s so much about this performance that can be seen as a massive leap forward for the band. It certainly bodes well for the new album, expected at some point in 2021. Take a listen below.