Really fun album with a fabulous singer. British seven-piece band Steamchicken blend folk, jazz, gypsy-swing, reggae, blues, soul and the kitchen sink on their good-time album. Together for 20-odd years, this is a slightly new direction in sound for them. Their first release featuring the quite splendid Amy Kakoura on lead vocals.
Four horns, full rhythm section and a sought-after band on the festival scene. Formed by Ted Crum on leaving the band Peeping Tom, they have had an ever-changing line-up to keep things fresh, producing many emerging musicians including harmonica man Will Pound and Matt Crum of the Demon Barbers.
The nine tracks on this their fifth album, are largely written by the band, give light and shade between the rollicking rockers and the more laid back, gentler cuts. Their Ceilidh roots are heard on their reworking of Irish polka, "Pride of Petravore", which is given a New Orleans vibe.
Amy is a real find, and combines story-telling traditions of trad' ballads and musical theatre in the compelling "Footfalling" and "Western Approaches". Steamchicken is Andrew Sharp on keys, Joe Crum on drums, Katy Oliver on trumpet, Mandy Sutton on tenor sax, Becky Eden-Green on alto sax, clarinet and bass, Matt Crum on soprano sax, melodeon and synth, Ted Crum on harmonica and bass and the sublime Amy Kakoura on lead and backing vocals.
The humour and fun elements do not over shadow the sheer musical talent here, nor the palpable chemistry that's in abundance across these tracks. Last word to the band, who tell us: "Here at last, we find the fabled Steamchicken in its natural habitat: surrounded by an excess of brass, volume and upsetting puns".