ALBUM: Spitfire RATING: 8/10 Reviewed by Matt McChlery Raging Grace are a band that have been performing and writing songs on the New England blues circuit for a number of years with the trio playing their guitar-driven songs in coffee houses, outdoor festivals, in prisons and at biker events. ‘Spitfire’ is their sixth album and the nine tracks it contains ring with the honesty and emotional intensity that makes blues rock such a timeless sound. The raw, crunchy electric guitars capture your attention from the start while there are finely executed solos in between lyrics which deliver the spiritual message with original and stimulating lyrical imagery.
The album is continuously musically interesting and contains some more typical old-school blues tracks such as “Velvet Plate” as well as more classic rock numbers like the upbeat and catchy “Rooted”. Raging Grace are not afraid to make their listeners think and dealing with themes including death, marriage and giving money in church ‘Spitfire’ demonstrates a grassroots ministry band at the top of their game. ALBUM: Without Restraint/Live Grace RATING: 9/10 Reviewed by Ian Hayter Raging Grace have been around for over 15 years, performing their brand of bluesy gospel in the coffee houses and outdoor festivals of New England. The threesome – Dave Cheney on drums, Dean Shannon on bass and Stephen Bell (whose facial hair makes him look like a refugee from ZZ Top) on guitar and lead vocals – pump out some serious blues rock, with driving rhythms and plenty of fiery guitar licks. They draw their name from the raging of a powerful river rather than from the anger of an offended trucker, and their music puts flesh on that idea with
thunderous riffs providing the background to lyrics which express the limitless love
and challenging call of God. From the opening “Overkill” through to the closer of the studio album, “Robbery Blues” there’s plenty here to delight the blues fan, to challenge the faithless and to uplift the faithful. The second disc is a live album which, unusually these days, showcases different material from their studio
album (only “Sparks” appears on both discs) and manages to convey something of the energy of a live concert. Joined by Jon Gamble, who adds some swirling Hammond to the mix, the trio really get the feet tapping and the pulse racing, as well as raising the spirits. Well worth tracking down.