The James Clode Band – Set in Stone EP
(Review by Sam Williams)
The James Clode Band are no strangers to the Cardiff music scene – I happened to catch them at Big Scott’s Radio Sessions at Cardiff’s fantastic Brewhouse – and I was mightily impressed with both the standard of the songs, and the quality of its nine(!) members, even if one member was residing in the womb. Set In Stone is JCB’s latest EP, and despite labelling themselves as a ‘roots rock band,’ the folk component is highly prevalent in this offering. Opening on the massive ‘Tell Me,’ it quickly becomes apparent how much weight James Clode’s voice carries, with its slight husk and unfaltering capability. Very much the ‘rock’ song of the EP, it allows for the more relaxed, funk-folk orientated ‘Bright Lights’ to make its mark as the tune to dance to. The subtleties in ‘Bright Lights’ make this a stand-out track; careful measurements in instrumentation and a less brash chorus work well. What doesn’t work quite as well is the slightly clumsy piano introduction of ‘Educated.’ However, it soon settles in with the rest of the mix and the piano’s place in the song is found. The Wakeman-esque synth solo is too unexpected and not enough in keeping with the rest of the song for my liking – nonetheless, I applaud its audacity. ‘Citadel’ sees the sounds of modern and traditional collide to great effect. In particular, the violin/fiddle work is of an extremely high calibre, and makes for very entertaining listening. Clode’s commanding voice tames ‘Citadel’ into a workable song, before allowing his musicians to go to town on the final leg. The end-of-album slow-dance position is filled by ‘Wake up Friend,’ and features a delightful duet of voices. Balladic, restrained, and brimming with emotion, ‘Wake up Friend’ finishes Set In Stone nicely, and is a credit to the songwriting talents of The James Clode Band.