CD Review – The Tea Party – Black Moon Rising

Boasting a career spanning over thirty-years and with releases on nine major-labels, Canadian band The Tea Party – composed of vocalist and guitarist Jeff Martin, drummer and percussionist Jeff Burrows, and Stuart Chatwood on bass and keyboards – has been successful without necessarily claiming the big headlines. But you can’t argue with two million records sold worldwide, and the group has undertaken extensive touring throughout Canada, the United States, Europe, and Australia, certainly gaining an extensive enthusiastic audience along the way.

Much of the band’s success can be attributed to their larger-than-life stage presence, and the eclecticism of its influences that include the blues, industrial rock, progressive rock, maybe even a touch now and again of grunge, plus some Middle Eastern music, that has seen it being dubbed as “Moroccan Roll” in some parts of the media. November 26th will see The Tea Party releasing its first new music in Europe since 2014, the well-respected The Ocean At The End, with a record entitled Blood Moon Rising which manages to be not a compilation as such but more of a collection of recent recordings. It features eleven tracks recorded by the band over the course of five years in both Canada and Australia, gathering together the self-released Black River EP with another number of new rock compositions and additional material. “My friends, it’s been far too long since Europe and The Tea Party have had a chance to meet” says Jeff Martin. “We wanted to make sure that this offering was just right for your ears, and I believe we’ve succeeded. Enjoy”.

The resulting music is quite raunchy, lively, and has an undoubted blustering swagger. The opening track, Black River, is infectiously riff-driven, whereas there is much more of a blues vibe on Way Way Down, while Hole In My Heart is more of a straight-ahead rocker. There is a conciseness to the songs too, all being the length of a single. But the band manages to crush many influences into such brevity. At times the sound is not unlike Cream, though not Jeff Martin’s voice which has a deeper and richer timbre than Jack Bruce’s has. The blues influence is quite evident on many of the tracks although with one foot planted firmly in rock. This leads to a fairly Zeppelinesque sound, especially on tracks such as Summertime, although again Jeff Martin’s voice is nothing like Robert Plant’s. Indeed, The Tea Party cover a Led Zeppelin song, in a well-arranged version of Out On The Tiles. There are a couple of other cover versions included with the CD and digital formats of the album, a classy interpretation of Joy Division’s Isolation and a spirited one of Morrisey’s Everyday Is Like Sunday.

The band are excellent musicians and play very tightly as a unit. The conciseness of the songs means there is virtually no opportunity to be expansive, which some of the songs might have benefitted from. The idea was obviously to be impactful though, to perhaps leave a calling card rather than to present a sumptuous meal. While none of the songs might be described as epic, they do possess a presence and are certainly distinctive. All the songs are highly melodic and radio friendly. It is undoubtedly a colourful listen too. The interplay between the musicians is a great feature. You might drive yourself insane too trying to place who Jeff Martin’s voice reminds you of. Jim Kerr? Scott Walker? Chris Farlowe? Whoever the similarity is with, it really is a key element of The Tea Party’s sound. This is an always interesting album to listen too.

1. Black River (02:56)

2. Way Way Down (02:52)

3. Sunshower (03:58)

4. So Careless (03:22)

5. Our Love (04:36)

6. Hole In My Heart (03:22)

7. Shelter (03:55)

8. Summertime (02:57)

9. Out On The Tiles (03:36) – Led Zeppelin Cover

10. The Beautiful (04:35)

11. Blood Moon Rising (Wattsy’s Song) (04:20)

12. Isolation (03:57) – Joy Division Cover *

13. Everyday Is Like Sunday (03:35) – Morrissey Cover *

14. Way Way Down (Bonus Live Version) (03:17) *

* Digipak CD/Digital Album Bonus – Not on Vinyl

Jeff Martin – vocals, guitar

Stuart Chatwood – bass, keyboards

Jeff Burrows – drums, percussion

Release date: 26th November 2021

Label: InsideOut Music

Formats: Ltd. CD Digipak, black LP+CD, Digital Album

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