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Lee Small - 'Jamaica Inn' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/bc/0b/83/2329_leesmalljamaicainn_1339773905.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     June 15, 2012    
 
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A must-have release.

After a busy 2011 Lee Small and those nice people over at Escape decided that it was high time he recorded a solo album and ‘Jamaica Inn’ is the end-product of this idea. Two things to tell you about before we get to the songs, firstly the album is a thematic one, with the songs centring on seafaring tales about tall ships, pirates and high adventure (though it isn’t a concept album) and secondly Small has recorded an album far removed from the rock album you might have expected from the man. It is instead a bluesy, soul fuelled romp that incorporates many different styles and moods to great effect. Does the fact that this is not a pure rock album make listening to this wonderful recording a problem? Far from it and because the songs sound so good and the performances of Imre Duan (drums), Martin Kronlund (guitar/bass) (who also produced) and Paul Bradder (keyboards) so beautifully played and arranged, that they only go to help and enhance the albums listening experience. As you might expect though the real star of the show is Small himself.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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His cool passionate vocals breathe life and energy into such superb tracks as ‘The Captains Quarters’, a blues filled track that pours over you like warm honey, the almost funk/blues of ‘Black Bess’ where Small really goes for it with a classy hard hitting vocal and Kronlund shows a real versatility with his blues filled guitar runs and ‘Dead Man Walking’, a slow burning rocker that features some more superb guitar courtesy of Mr Kronlund, and is lifted on high by emotionally resonant voice of Small himself, who once again cajoles and commands as he regales us with a story of high adventure. ‘Smugglers Blues’ follows in this wonderful trend, and Small here tells a tale of swashbuckling daring do and boyhood fantasies of pirate ships and the Spanish Main. Standout track on the album for me, however, is the awesome ‘Voyager’, a cool soulful guitar break from Kronlund helps to draw out another superb emotion filled vocal from Small and the more you play the track the better it gets, and wait until you hear the solo which is sheer brilliance. What is also a stroke of genius is the last proper track on the album, a cover version of the Boys II Men song ‘End Of The Road’ where Small puts in a fantastic vocal and shows the versatility of the man - he really does make the song his very own.

2011 was I think a very good year for Lee Small, and on the showing of ‘Jamaica Inn’, I think 2012 could be an even better one, with what is - in my humble opinion - a must-have release!

Ian Johnson

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