Rootstime – Review

“A brand new contemporary rock-blues project featuring London based,
Detroit vocalist, a Finnish guitarist & a Dutch songwriter…”

Black Pearl was the result of the inventiveness that the Covid pandemic demanded of the artists in the past year. An American, a Finn and a Dutchman released their debut album, with eleven original songs written by the three involved, ‘Black Pearl’.

The album opens with “Angel Town”, a lingering grooving mid-tempo rocker, in which Marcus Malone immediately impresses with his melancholic voice, while he sketches the not so nice life in Los Angeles. Muddy Manninen’s heavy bass line leads the dance here and with a successful beautiful slide solo and many Wah-Wah’s he shines even further in the song.

Do you recognize the Stones’ influences in the intro of the midtempo rocker “Cheap Parfum”? It is a story about the adventurous nightlife, where a lot of booze flows. Here Tom Wilkes’ tight percussion determines the rhythm.

In the swampy “Delivery Man” Mallone sings about his complex love life with Ruthie, Rachel, Susie and… not to mention Angeline. It is a Southern Americana song, with many recognizable Little Feat influences. Muddy’s bottleneck slide work and Moz Gamble’s piano strumming are extremely liberating.

This is followed by the first single from the album, “Price on Love”.

It quickly becomes clear when listening to why this soulful love song became their choice. Also in “Luxury Girl” you quickly realize that Marcus Malone is singing about his girl, who likes to enjoy life and who likes to drive around in luxury cars. It then becomes very funky with “Mexican Romance” through Muddy’s guitar playing, with Mark Perry on Hammond and Moz Gamble on clavinet very present. Fun is the end, when Malone actually starts rapping, while Muddy accompanies him with witty Wah-Wahs.

On “Moment of Regret” Malone sounds very menacing and Roger Inniss’ pounding bassline and Muddy’s guitar amplify everything. “Natural Light” is already the next groovy mid-tempo blues/rocker, “Handmade Pearl” a relaxed rippling song and “She Knows Every Move” the perfect complement. “Black Pearl” closes with the dreamy bluesy prog song “With My Baby by My Side”. We can enjoy the much Wah-Wah’s saturated guitar work of Muddy one last time.

“Black Pearl scores immediately with their self-titled debut, on which musicians and songwriters complement each other musically and straight away turn it into a party for blues/rock enthusiasts.…” (ESC for Rootstime)

Eric Schuurmans

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