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Fred Abbott - Serious Poke (Review)

Fred Abbott, Serious Poke

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

UNTIL now, Fred Abbott has been best known as lead guitarist and keyboard player for the recently disbanded Noah And The Whale. That’s about to change in a big, big way.

Freed from the shackles of being in a successful band, Abbott has now spread his wings and delivered his first solo LP in the form of Serious Poke. And the result is quite often electrifying.

Anyone anticipating a sound reminiscent of Noah & The Whale had best think again; for this owes much more to a classic rock sound and, in particular, the ’80s and ’90s heyday of Tom Petty. And that’s no small compliment!

It’s also an album that showcases Abbott’s blistering guitar skills as well as his gruff vocals, which suit the material really well. And, above all else, it’s the sound of a singer-songwriter having some fun – the feeling of which is utterly infectious.

Abbott wastes no time in endearing himself to you either, with the appropriately named opening track Adrenaline Shot coming at you with some gutsy hooks and a classic American rock vibe that recalls Petty’s American Girl mixed with a little Springsteen. It’s a foot-stomper par excellence, complete with rousing guitar solo. And it sets things up in spectacular fashion.

Funny How Good It Feels, the track which follows, has an even bigger sense of grandeur, embodying the type of anthem-like qualities that helped bands like Kiss or The Darkness deliver some crowd-pleasing hits. It also has a slightly kitsch ’80s feel.

But while that last point perhaps gets in the way of that song emerging as another of the album’s out and out highlights, then Awake restores proceedings to tip-top quality. A pure slice of American rock that boasts guitar work that Learning To Fly-era Petty would have been proud of, as well as a gravelly vocal on par with Crash Test Dummies, this is another gem.

Honey, with its gin-soaked sentiments and sharp sense of celebrity decadence, is a bluesy highlight, as is Hollywood with its catchy hooks and anthemic chorus – a summer track with retro leanings that really delivers on the feel-good vibes (you’ll be moved to join Abbott on his cruise along the Pacific Coast Highway).

One Hot Night breezes along with some slick slide guitar to propel it, Learn About Love drops some of the gutsiest riffs on the LP (and a Lenny Kravitz-style opening to die for), while Don’t Look Like Him slows down the tempo to more bluesy, moody effect with similar aplomb.

If the album then takes its foot off the gas a little and fails to deliver the bombastic finale you may have been expecting, then Abbott still manages to impress with his decision to move into slower burning ballad territory.

Hence, the piano drenched Still Told A Lie has a moody sense of melancholy that offers a nicely bittersweet riposte to some of the more celebratory moments, before Lucky People slows down the tempo even more to deliver an almost jazz-rock climax that resonates by virtue of its emotionally-charged lyrics (and hangdog vocals).

All told, Abbott has delivered something of a masterclass here. The future looks exceptionally bright for him.

Download picks: Adrenaline Shot, Awake, Honey, Hollywood, Learn About Love

Track listing:

  1. Adrenaline Shot
  2. Funny How Good It Feels
  3. Awake
  4. Honey
  5. Hollywood
  6. One Hot Night
  7. Learn About Love
  8. Don’t Look Like Him
  9. Still Told A Lie
  10. Lucky People