The critically acclaimed Black Country, New Road have made their anticipated return after their 2022 five star album ‘Ants From The Up There’, but their comeback comes under strange circumstances.
The release of their outstanding sophomore album last year was overshadowed with the shocking news that lead vocalist, Isaac Wood, had left the band. Fans were devastated, but instead of calling it quits, the band carried on their odyssey as a reformed sextet.
The band continued playing live and vowed to play no material that featured Wood on vocals without him, so instead played throughout 2022 with brand new music, with three of the continuing members sharing vocal duties. This music remained unreleased, until now.
Black Country,New Road’s latest offering, ‘Live at Bush Hall’, is a recording of the previously unreleased tracks from their live shows in December 2022, alongside an accompanying film.
With ‘Live At Bush Hall’, Black Country ,New Road have proven that the departure of a key member won’t dim the fire that earnt them two critically acclaimed records. From the start, the live record opens a portal to their enchanting new world.
The masterful musicianship is certainly not lost, as evoking and twinkling piano playing, rich saxophone, moving violin and soulful guitar gel with the rhythm section like industrial glue on metal. The pure craftsmanship involved in building such a euphonious and lifting sound is nothing short of stellar. Nothing has changed here.
When it comes to the vocals, the duties are shared between saxophonist Lewis Evans, pianist May Kershaw, and bassist Taylor Hyde. Between them, they’ve taken over faultlessly. Evans carries on the raw, heartfelt passion that Wood previously brought to the table. With Kershaw, a new sense of vulnerability and tenderness that comes close to being hypnotic is brought to the table, and Hyde’s vocals bring a sound of rejuvenation and warmth.
Standout tracks include ‘The Boy’ and ‘The Wrong Trousers’, but it’s the Kershaw led ‘Turbines/Pigs’ that really sticks out. The light and mellow opening exposes Kershaw’s vulnerable and tranquil vocals accompanied by only her piano, as the track suddenly builds to the rest of the band propelling into a dramatic and harmonious conclusion that creates a musical triumph.
Whilst the decision to debut these tracks in the form of a live album might seem strange to some, the concept is one that works marvellously well. ‘Live At Bush Hall’ is Black Country, New Road in a transition period, moving on from their first successful chapter and reforming into something new. The live recording adds a layer of vulnerability to each track, as they showcase their regenerated new form. It’s raw, striking, and it’s clear the audience present are mesmerised.
‘Live At Bush Hall’ is enough to get any fan excited for Black Country, New Road’s new chapter. Their new music in its purest form shows that despite unexpected changes, the band’s resilience is stronger than ever. This is immortalised in the lyrics of the opening track ‘Up Song’: “Look at what we did together / BC,NR friends forever”.
Words: Kieran Macadie