Gypsy Soul Records
Maple Blues Award winners Bywater Call have drawn a fair share of parallels to Tedeschi Trucks Band since emerging in Toronto in 2017. Remain will likely bolster those comparisons, but also cement the distinctive character of this seven-member group through their gripping performances of eleven original songs. This album never lets up. Singer Meghan Parnell and guitarist Dave Barnes formed Bywater Call just five years ago, but it sounds as if they have been making these big impressions for far longer. Soaring, swaying, funky, and contemporary in just the right way, this is rhythm and blues music born in the American south and played with Northern boom. Parnell’s massive range contains Memphis butter cut with Chicago grit, her power like a train banging into a subway station delivering hordes of heated resolve. Susan Tedeschi may come to mind, but this lady stands firmly and confidently in her own place.
The album-opener “Falls Away” falls into place on a tumble of fuzzy guitar before Parnell’s emotional depth leaps up and elevates everyone and everything into a storming groove. Barnes lights up as red hot as Parnell in all the right places, his talents considerable, and his obvious affinity for Mr. Trucks and Duane Allman restrained with class. The pattern of urgency that builds throughout the tough “Lover Down Slow,” especially from its midpoint forward, reveals what uncommon collaborators this band is (the songs are all credited collectively to Bywater Call). Lyrically and musically, they speak from the gut to a large audience. Most heat up steadily and contain artful, exciting tempo changes that afford every member time to shine and land a punch. The album’s excellent production certainly helps in that regard.
“Remain” begins sweet and tender but explodes at its end. It provides a perfect transition into “Let Me Be Wrong,” with its uptown chic cloaked in down home warmth. Wired tight, the Stax stacked “Sea We Swim” makes several bold statements. “Ties that Bind” could be Blood, Sweat & Tears had the original band kept going. Although it may be difficult to pick a favorite on the album, “Left Behind” stands out, its stout resolve, surging beats, and sassiness combined, completely irresistible.
A leap forward in every way from Bywater Call’s fine self-titled 2019 debut, “Remain” is a 52-minute tempest of beautiful and compelling rock and soul music.
Tom Clarke for MAS