Acoustic Ladyland: Living With A Tiger (2009)
This album differs from third album Skinny Grin (V2 Records, 2006) in its instrumentation, with Tom Cawley's keyboards now replaced by Sharkey's guitar. It also moves away from Skinny Grin's focus on songs, many of which saw Wareham taking lead vocals, returning exclusively to instrumentals.
Living With A Tiger is a ballad-free zone, but that's not to say that it lacks dynamics. Wareham plays his tenor sax, for the most part, in the upper reaches of its range; the instrument screams, screeches and shrieks, challenging Sharkey's guitar to respond. Sharkey is happy to meet the challenge, particularly with his punchy rhythm playing on tracks like "Have Another Go" and "Glasto." Goller's bass is wonderfully guttural and raw, especially on "Glasto" and "Living with a Tiger," lending a forceful contrast to the higher register playing of Wareham and Sharkey.
"Not So" is driven by amazingly fast and hard drumming from Rochford, underpinning the rhythmic pulse of Goller and Sharkey as Wareham's sax and then Sharkey's guitar create head banging riffs. The following track, "The Mighty Q," brings the pace down almost to a crawl, creating a slow and threatening pulse under Wareham's soaring sax. "Worry" begins at a similar pace, but the threat is replaced by a more introspective and emotive sax line, creating the most beautiful and restrained tune on the album. Even as the tension builds, Wareham's playing remains controlled, moving back in the mix as Sharkey's guitar sparkles into life and takes the lead, before returning to the front for the final third of the tune.
The overriding feeling that this album creates is one of sheer joy. The playing is powerful and energetic, the riffs are infectious and the performances are wild and willful. At times the music is a tad scary, at times lovely, at other times funky. It's music to be listened to, but it's also music to dance to. Living With A Tiger is a fine addition to the output of one of the UK's best bands.
Track Listing: Sport Mode; Glasto; Living with a Tiger; Gratitude; Have Another Go; Death by Platitude; Not So; The Mighty Q; Worry; You and I.
Personnel: Pete Wareham: saxophone; Chris Sharkey: guitar; Ruth Goller: bass guitar; Seb Rochford: drums.
Record Label: Strong And Wrong
Style: Beyond Jazz