One must come out of the gate hot when presenting a body of work that you’ve been cursing, sweating and grinding over for months in a studio, living with the thing, breeding it till that thing becomes an opening riff that kills on impact.
Not “kill” as in kill, like dead kill. More like: Bam! I just got slapped in the face with the sweetest of cold waters, all in the name of music. That kind of kill.
Song one, line one, joke one – they all need to land right with the audience at the git-go. And that’s what “Say Darling” did on their new self titled EP. They crushed it, right from the git-go.
A fierce finger roll of the Hammond organ, then crashing drums bleeding into a blazing guitar riff born out of the stylings of Chris Hersch and that, my friends, is the way to open up a song.
And that’s just the first twenty seconds of “Stoned On You.”
Celia Woodsmith starts on the edges of the opening number, pacing round the ring, ready to pounce on the listeners with her stone cold, bluesy voice and perfect — and I mean perfect — delivery.
The song intensifies, relaxes, builds, then comes out swinging again — more riff, more blues, drums, organ, bass, all of it on fire, all at once.
There’s no reason why a song this good isn’t being played three times a day on radio stations across the country. Strange expectations, I suppose.
“Say Darling” is a lethal combination of all-star musicians from around New England. Woodsmith is from Vermont with a real nice following in Maine and Boston. She’s traveled the country singing and playing. And she’s got a Grammy nomination with her bluegrass band called “Della Mae.” Celia is the real deal.
Chris Hersch was the lead guitarist in a band called Girls, Guns and Glory for a long time. GGG is a truly incredible outfit from the Boston area that plays country, hillbilly rock and plenty of Hank Williams. Hersch was a vital member of that band, providing a guitar sound that reaches back to days of Waylon Jennings and Jimmy Rodgers.
Recorded at Woolly Mammoth Studios in Waltham, Mass, the production is great, everything pops when it’s suppose too, sounding smooth with plenty of breathing room, capturing the strengths of each musician.
“Lights” is another great song on the CD that tells the tales of a listless bar singer playing to a lounge filled with nothing but “hollow eyes that don’t even see me, don’t even try.” With guts in her voice and the perfect amount of a ache in Hersch’s guitar play, the song is built for contemplation and low riding on a gravel road at dusk.
Sawdust smooth with a little cotton in the groove, “One Man Band” will make your index fingers wiggle and your hips swivel. Again, the Hammond dazzles, whining in a wonderful pattern of strangeness. “To Paradise” is pure pop rock bliss, with seemingly every power chord brought front and center. Again, radio worthy.
“Say Darling,” whether a one-off band or the start of something long term, have delivered in a big time way on this project. Whether it’s country, jazz, soul or blues, pop rock or juke swing, the band has done what every artist strives to do: They killed it, right out of the gate.
Rob Azevedo can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org