Huey And The New Yorkers – Say It To My Face (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
HUEY Morgan is best known as the frontman of Fun Lovin’ Criminals but for Say It To My Face he’s decided to go solo with disappointing results.
Missing his native New York, yet inspired by the gift of a re-issued 1920’s Martin acoustic guitar, Morgan set to work on the album enlisting help from his life-long musician buddies he’d played with for years in an occasional band of booze-brothers called the Tangiers Blues Band: namely Chris Scianni (strings), King (bass), while Frank Benbini (Fun Lovin’ Criminals) chipped-in with drums.
Pete Levin, a member of Grammy winning Blind Boys of Alabama (keyboards) and Naim Cortazzi (ukulele), also a member of the group New Yorkers, also chipped in along with harmonica from Grammy-award winning lens-man Danny Clinch (a favourite of Springsteen).
The gang was then augmented by legendary class: steel-pedal from BJ Cole and production from Morgan, along with Grammy-award-winning Tim Latham (Fun Lovin’ Criminals, De La Soul, Lou Reed).
Such a line-up makes the failure of the album to really standout all the more stark. But aside from a couple of strong moments, this underwhelms.
But let’s take the positives first. The undisputed highlight in the pack is New York Bluez, which successfully combines some funky percussion with some marvellous slide and steel-pedal as well as some fun blasts of harmonica. It’s the sound of a band having some fun in rousing blues-rock fashion and it leaves you pining for so much more.
In contrast, She Gone offers a more thoughtful, lovelorn slice of country-tinged blues that provides a fascinating contrast to Huey’s more cool persona, especially vocally.
Album opener Stick It To The Man opens things with a hint of familiarity, too, tapping into the same care-free spirit of the Fun Lovin’ Criminals and their desire to do things their own way.
But thereafter, the album is more about what it fails to deliver than what it does. The scuzzy guitars of Dirty Bird suggest something special but Huey’s baritone delivery doesn’t quite match the style (especially as he more speaks than sings a lot of it) and the same criticism extends to Let My People Go until it reaches the chorus.
Tom Waits’ fan may dig the gravel-throated nature of Shaniqua but – again – the song itself is missing a spark, while tracks like The Ripple and Fall Into Me just drift along or, worse, sound like songs for the elderly.
Huey may call it his most mature and personal collection of work to date but, for the most part, it fails to realise the potential offered by either its usually more charismatic front-man or the star-studded line-up he has assembled.
Download picks: New York Bluez, She Gone, Stick It To The Man