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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Elegant power from No Hot Ashes

FOR any band releasing their début album more than three decades after they formed borders almost like a satire with Alan Partridge and Ricky Gervais starring. But No Hot Ashes are not a satirical act, no comedy lines, no knowing nods to the audience.

Because this self titled release is the real deal.

The story of its gestation is the stuff of legends. From high-flying days, to disbandment and tragedy, there are many layers to the No Hot Ashes story. But that narrative means nought if the music carries no weight.

On all 10 tracks the band have pulled something from within to produce an album that is an elegant journey of musical pleasure.

The irony is that had this been released at any other time period other than the mid-80s or right now it would have been a passing irrelevancy. But now in 2018 No Hot Ashes are right on the rock zeitgeist. Not that it is deliberate, but tunes like 'I'm Back' and opener ''Come Alive' are tailor made for an era when the teens of the 80s are grown up with older kids who are re-discovering their passion for music.

And, some of the teens of today are re-discovering the joy of what is glibly called classic rock. This album is right on the target as a classic, and essential purchase.

Eamon Nancarrow's voice has a silky, emotional timbre that captures each note, especially on the tribute to his parents' resilience 'Boulders'.

However, what is most impressive is that each song has that magical composition, seeing Niall Diver and Davey Irvine use guitar alchemy, such as on 'Over Again', little flourishes, smooth riffing and restraint to add emphasis when it breaks out.

The texture added by Tommy Dickson's keyboards, as in the intro to 'Souls' is a key element.
When it comes the rhythm work the late Paul Boyd (bass) and Steve Strange (drums) anchor everything. As Paul passed after recording his bass the album is dedicated to his memory.

From a reunion, charity appearances, over the past five years the experience of playing major festivals and prestigious support slots shows in the playing. The songs have been honed to a sharp edge.

No Hot Ashes have defied the odds, have knuckled down and done what many people could have only dreamed - they've actually realised the dream of having an album that stands out, that will stand the test of time , an album that you just want to listen to over and over again.

Review by Jonathan Traynor

No Hot Ashes is released on Frontiers s..r.l. on March 23rd

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