Indigo Kid: Indigo Kid (2012)
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Indigo Kid, the eponymous debut from this UK-based quartet, is a slow burner. At first, it seems pleasant enough: strongly melodic and musically tight, with well-arranged tunes. But with each additional play the melodies get stronger and the interplay between the guitar and tenor saxophone reveals more and more depth. Third or fourth time around, the album's subtle charms are firmly to the fore; resistance is futile.
Indigo Kid's leader is guitarist/composer Dan Messore, a player with a warm, full, tone and a talent for moderately paced but fluid single note runs. He shares the frontline and warm tone with tenor saxophonist Iain Ballamy, a vastly experienced player who came to prominence in the '80s with bands such as Loose Tubes and Bill Bruford's Earthworks. Rhythmic foundations are provided by bassist Tim Harries (whose resume also includes Earthworks, as well as folk-rockers Steeleye Span) and drummer Gethin Jones, like Messore a graduate of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
There's an unusual, but welcome, spaciousness to the album's sound, courtesy of Ballamy's production, reflected by the spare though enjoyably tactile sleeve design. Harries and Jones are particular beneficiaries of Ballamy's approach, with both of their instruments coming across with superb clarity.
"Mr Lepard" is a key tune, a languid, hypnotic, guitar melody on which Messore draws from the sound of folk giants like Bert Jansch and Davey Graham. "New Man New Place" grooves gently, a Brazilian influence subtly underpins the tune and Harries' bass patterns give it a feeling of sensuality. Ballamy's standout performance comes on Indigo Kid's laidback and melancholy take on the Gershwins' "The Man I Love." "Waitent Wantant," another melancholy tune, showcases Ballamy and Messore's ability to intertwine guitar and tenor saxophone, while on the more up-tempo "First Light," their unison playing creates a brighter and more positive sound.
Indigo Kid is a shining example of the virtues of mixing experience and youthful exuberance. The quartet has an acute sense of dynamics and pace, giving Messore's compositions a vibrancy and emotional connection that heightens their impact.
Track Listing: First Light; Waitent Wantant; Mr Lepard; New Man New Place; Indigo Kid; Pages To A Friend; Ode To Gilly; The Man I Love; Bioluminescence.
Personnel: Dan Messore: guitar; Iain Ballamy: tenor saxophone; Tim Harries: bass; Gethin Jones: drums.
Record Label: Babel Label