Rocking Magpie – Review

Slick and Classy 21st Century A.O.R With a Blues Rock Cutting Edge.

Apparently this album started life as a ‘songwriting project’ between two old friends (Pete Feenstra and Muddy Manninen) and eventually took on the metaphorical ‘life of its own’ when they asked Marcus Malone to sing a couple; culminating with an actual album of complete songs that straddle Blues Rock and Americana.
Things get started with the punchy and claustrophobic sounding Angel Town; loosely based on their experiences in Los Angeles over the years and now one of those songs that could easily find its way onto a Cop Drama on TV.

This is followed by the sleazy Cheap Perfume, which features some sizzling slide guitar and a bass line that Jack Bruce or Andy Fraser would have been proud of; especially as Marcus Malone’s vocals have a hint of the young Paul Rogers here and there.
In fairness there are lots of obvious and less obvious influences on show here; which shouldn’t come as a surprise when you know the pedigree of the three main players on this recording.

Just when you think you’ve got them figured out; the trio drop in the funkalicious Mexican Romance which showcases some strange and memorable guitar licks as Malone shows us his soulful side; without making the song sound out of place on a Blues album.

I want to use the word ‘slick’ to describe the production and the way the album has affected me; but ‘slick’ has negative connotations these days; but trust me here; it is ‘slick;’ but that’s only because the band members are all tried and trusted professionals who are creating music for adults with expensive stereo systems.
Bittersweet Love Songs like Price on Love, With My Baby By My Side and Delivery Man are the songs I’m thinking of …… erring on the side of AOR but directed at an aging demographic that understands the nuances in a relationship as much as they do about songs on that subject.

Don’t get me wrong; these cats can R.O.C.K whenever they want, but they know that there’s more chance of this album and especially Luxury Girl, Natural Light and She Knows My Every Move, being played inside an air-conditioned Tesla or at a Saturday night BBQ when the quality of the wine on offer is more important than the state of the world outside those gates; than there is it being played in a souped-up Honda Civic outside a burger joint.

I’ve got another word, ‘classy’ to describe the two songs that have eventually tied for the accolade of RMHQ Favourite Song ….. Moment of Regret reminded me of a Boz Scaggs song that I can’t remember the title of; and yet again will fit perfectly onto the soundtrack to my imaginary TV Cop drama.

The other is actually the title track, Black Pearl; slow and slinky which allows you to wallow in the gorgeous melody and of course; the words in a rather fabulous song too.

I suppose I can sum up by saying this is a Grown Up album made by Grown Up musicians and squarely aimed at Grown Up music lovers who appreciate great musicianship and songs that make sense.

Pete Feenstra, Muddy Manninen & Marcus Malone BLACK PEARL

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