Aaron Carpenter & The Revelators – Pretty Lies
(North Western Records)
Reviewed by Sarah Kidd.
Aaron Carpenter is certainly no stranger to the stage, but he has come an awful long way from his days of sneaking into The Glue Pot to hang out with the likes of New Zealand legend Midge Marsden. After travelling the world Carpenter is back and this time he has assembled a rather impressive group of musicians to join him; The Revelators as they are referred to feature a couple of familiar faces that being fellow Waiheke Island residents Derek Solomon on guitar and bass player Lee Catlin from the highly regarded The Solomon Cole Band.
Pretty Lies – the debut album from Aaron Carpenter and The Revelators most definitely stamps its mark on the local music scene with its own brand of Americana/Blues Rock. From the opening title track, you just know that you are listening to something that really is quite special. That swaggering guitar riff; a little bit sexy, a little bit dirty, it draws you in before Carpenter’s husky vocals deliver that opening line “Go Ahead – Shake It all Off”. The song (which the band has also chosen as their first single) speaks of a fleeting romance and the frustrations of love’s fragility; it’s dripping with attitude and is frankly four minutes of pure aural pleasure.
Moving straight into ‘Gun Smoke Girl’ and you are instantly transported to some dusty saloon bar, where the whiskey is drunk straight and bullets always find their mark. An alternative love song it conjures up images of the elusive local girl that can’t and won’t be tamed.
Frankly there is nothing better than a one, two, three combo and Pretty Lies certainly provides that with its first three tracks; the third, entitled ‘The Highway’ is rich unadulterated blues, with lyrics that speak of deliverance with just the right amount of emotion. Carpenter’s voice really comes into its own on this track, intertwined with a sorrowful background organ; the song punctuated with a perfectly timed harmonica that leaves you wanting more.
But the gems don’t end there. ‘Never Hungry Long’ is reminiscent of an early Neil Young track, with just enough ferocity and bite to make you weary of it’s charms; while the gentle guitar on ‘Moon over Mountain’ almost tumbles through soundscapes that invoke images of forests at night, Derek Solomon’s skills comparable to those of a young Lindsey Buckingham. Adding a dash of spice and variety to many of the tracks is the wonderful Nikki Ngatei, her backing vocals blending beautifully with those of Carpenters.
The album also features a marvellous cover of Led Zeppelins version of ‘When the Levee Breaks’, capturing that wonderful rock vibe and instantaneously making your hips sway in time to the music. Closing it out in style is the epic almost nine minute long ‘Werewolf’ that could easily be the theme song for an ultra-cool indie road movie.
This album is so damn good you almost need to lie down after the first run through.