Follow Us on Twitter

Hey Negrita - You Can Kick

Hey Negrita, You Can Kick

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

DESCRIBED as a twisted cross between Johnny Cash and The Rolling Stones, Hey Negrita blend raw Americana with old school British rock ‘n’ roll to create a unique brew of transAtlantic music – and it’s well worth hearing!

Their journey began when singer/songwriter, Felix, moved to South Florida in 2000, where he spent his nights jamming with one of Ray Charles’ backing singers and a 55-year-old cowboy junky who had worked with Gram Parsons and Little Feat.

Having left London in search of a new life following a five-year battle with heroin, Felix embraced the dark humour, warm weather and earthy music of the Deep South.

Within a few weeks of arriving in Delray Beach he secured a residency at the bohemian Da Da Lounge where he began writing and performing the songs that would evolve into Hey Negrita’s debut album We Are Catfish some five years later.

You Can Kick, Hey Negrita’s latest long-player, sees Felix and drummer, Neil Findlay, joined by new recruits Matthew Ord (guitar and vocals), Paul Sandy (double bass) and Captain Bliss (harmonica and vocals).

The majority of the songs were written during the band’s two US tours and 19-date UK stint with Alabama 3 at the end of 2006. They’re described as being “packed full of addictive melodies, stunning harmonies and potent lyrics that testify against life, love and the pursuit of happiness whilst quietly luring you back to the pub”. And it’s a pretty accurate summary!

Songs are steeped in classic songwriting values and contain a dusky, lived-in sensibility. The Cash/Stones comparisons are evident, too, as well as traces of Dylan and even Tom Petty.

The Stones vibe is never more evident than during album highlight Cold, a harmonica-soaked lament about rotten love that, vocally, contains some wonderfully barbed imagery (“when the smell of desperation keeps the flies off your shoes” and “you’re way too cold for me to lean on”).

Album opener Room Service is classic Americana – the guitars built around short, sharp riffs and a wonderfully gruff set of vocals; while Lay Me Down is best filed under alt-country. It’s the closest they come to a romantic offering, and you can quite imagine it going down a storm at the Grand Old Oprey.

The harmonica returns to excellent effect on the rootin’, tootin’ Go Again, as well as on the bluesy Here I Come, while album closer The Last Thing That I Do draws things to a richly satisfying close, complete with campfire whistling, banjo licks and a big band extravaganza.

Hey Negrita may be a relatively unknown act on these shores, but their music – though rooted in Americana – is well worth discovering for fans of classic rock.

Download picks: Room Service, Cold, Here I Come, Go Again, The Last Thing That I Do.

Track listing:

  1. Room Service
  2. Cold
  3. Rope
  4. Chained
  5. Lay Me Down
  6. Go Again
  7. Pass You By
  8. Lies
  9. Here I Come
  10. You Can Kick
  11. Fishin’
  12. The Last Thing That I Do