Reviewed by Meghan Player
One year ago, local blues musician Frank Sultana was feeling “low and isolated” from not only his music, but those around him. Seeing this as a point to go on a physical journey, Sultana took a trip to the US where he spent 6 weeks travelling in and around California. Upon his return, he sat down with his band – The Sinister Kids – and penned one hell of a blues album. The result being ‘Greetings From Devilstown“.
From the moment the album begins with ‘Three Crazy Mules‘, the album takes the listener – and indeed, the musicians involved – on an emotional and imaginative journey – a story about the blues if you will. ‘Summer Blues‘, a track with a melody that will stick in your head throughout, begins the storytelling – a yearning for another time and place.
The pace soon changes with ‘How Long Can I Hide‘ – a more upbeat, infectious and physically moving track that makes your head and feet tap in approval. The early blues style mixed with the 60s style guitar licks are wonderfully cheerful – whilst the coupling of Sultana’s and Jesse Wadeson‘s stirring vocals makes for one beautiful harmony.
The storytelling continues with the following tracks ‘Kind Hearted Girl‘ and ‘A Soldiers Blues‘ – both echoing an era that time has almost forgotten. As simple as the tracks appear on the surface, the amount of emotional integrity and heart that pours from each line delivered is achingly powerful and bitterly honest.
As the tracks flow into ‘A Wife’s Blues‘ – Roxanne Clarke’s haunting, distorted vocals come into the spotlight once again – echoing the wife ‘character’ of the song. Clarke’s amazing command and control over the song is incredible and undeniably an integral part of the overall sound and style of the band.
‘Devilstown‘ is quite possibly my favourite track on the album. It’s stirring, haunting melody feels other worldly – almost gypsy-like. The light horn section inclusion feels nostalgic and beautiful – like something that would not have been out-of-place on a Screamin’ Jay Hawkins record.
‘Poison In My Stew‘ follows the previous tracks lead – drawing on the whimsy and hypnotic style that the album possesses throughout. Lyrically, the track is one of the highlights – “…there’s an angel in my kitchen, poisoning my stew..” Sultana calls. It’s this poetic imagery that dots the album and narrates each track beautifully.
As the album moves towards the final act, ‘Lost & Lonesome Man‘ feels like a moment of reflection from the band and indeed, Sultana. The heartbreaking honesty, yet astounding relatability resonates with the listener – drawing on a moment that, no doubt, has been a part of most peoples lives.
‘Dig The Destruction‘ welcomes a dirty, more distorted style of blues to the table – with the band putting everything they have into one final track. It’s this shift in pitch, style and delivery that makes you almost forget the despair of ‘Lost & Lonesome Man‘ [a memory of the past] and embrace the time at hand, and what the future will hold.
Overall, ‘Greetings From Devilstown‘ is a fine album – there is simply no other way to put it. From the moment the album begins, it feels as though you’re welcoming an old friend over to dinner. Stories are told, hearts are broken but at the same time memories are made and new futures become clear. This is the world that Frank Sultana & The Sinister Kids have created. And while it may opt for ‘characters’ to tell the story – angels, devils and everything in between – there is no denying the underlying honesty that is weaved throughout the tales.
This is the future of blues. And it’s damn good.