Troublesome and tumultuous times politically tends to bring out the best in musicians, with everyone from the world of Metal, Punk, Country, Folk, and Blues to name but a few raising their voices in protest. Wigan’s own John Fairhurst is strongly rooted in the latter camp, with his new album The Divided Kingdom (Unmanageable Records) containing impassioned rallying cries against greed and corruption, Brexit and the lying politicians involved with it, alongside riffs and hooks aplenty.
It is a fiery 37 minutes of heavy Blues that comes straight from the heart, with the title track welcoming you to the moody riffs and gravelly, Tom Waits-like timbre of John Fairhurst – it is fair to say that he is not a fan of Brexit. It is catchy and passionate, with this fiery nature exemplified on the driving beat and punky, Iggy Pop-like power of ‘Blood and Fire’ – propelled along by Toby Murray’s drumming.
The record has a wonderful ebb and flow to it, as you go from the singalong, homeless worries of ‘Hungry Blues (Slight Return)’ to the slow, ominous and hypnotic beat of ‘Lies and a .45’ lying in wait at record’s centre. The laidback, lo-fi riffs and venomous lyrics of ‘Fear’ to the punchy bar room Rock, and rollicking good time that is ‘Boss Man’. The easy-going, natural flow to the album is very pleasing on the ear with the only downside being that is over too quickly – but not before you are treated to the boisterous Southern Rock of ‘Gonna See My Baby’, tailor-made to be played live.
The measured pace and growing power of ‘And We Dance The Merry Dance’, which sees Mr. Fairhurst going through his life and mental state, finishes The Divided Kingdom – a homogeneous, all too brief offering which had me in its thrall from start to finish.
8 / 10