SAYER & JOYCE – Makes You Stronger (Gulf Coast Records)

Makes You StrongerSayer & Joyce released Makes You Stronger on September 20th. Makes You Stronger is one of those blues albums that just makes you want to see the band live. Have a listen to ‘Backbone’ below – the riff, the drum(s), the vocal, the bigger sound, all building to Sayer’s voice cutting in, which itself builds to the semi-snarled title line “Someday, somehow you will find a backbone”. The album’s only a minute old and I’m hooked.

Ron Sayer started playing guitar as a child and describes himself as “taking the rocky road from Hank Marvin to Robert Johnson and stopping off pretty much everywhere in between” – but the focus is blues and I gather Sayer has worked with Buddy Guy, John Mayall, Walter Trout, Robin Trower – to name just the first four on the list. Charlotte Joyce is a singer, vocal coach, musician and, on this album, lead vocal on all the tracks. It’s a pretty good combination.

‘Hard Love’, the second track, has the kind of slow, soaring bluesy feel that takes me back to late nights and early mornings watching blues bands in various odd venues many years ago – but Joyce’s vocal adds a smokiness and femininity to the sound. ‘My Life Alive’ is pounding blues. ‘Life Is What Happens’ soars like ‘Piece Of My Heart’, has a gospel-ish choir and an equally soaring brass sound – we’re still only four tracks in.

The album continues in this vein, at times a bit more funky, at times touching the edges of country but at its heart a solid blues/blues-rock/blues-soul sound, some great guitar playing from Sayer set against Joyce’s powerful vocals and a bigger sound behind it all from the percussion and brass. As for the lyrics, try the following from ‘No Galahad’:

I don’t think I’m getting through
But the conversation’s done
I get all the blues, you get the fun.
If I’m having such a good time
Why do I feel so bad?
You think that you’re a hero
But you’re no Galahad
Its over…oh it’s over….oh I’m so over you

Blues relationship lyrics at their best, guitar lead spitting in the background, the vocals defiant, the track driven at pace by the rhythm section.

Their website doesn’t show more than a couple of gigs. I rather like this album, it would be good to see them play.

Mike Wistow

Artist’s website:

‘Backbone’ – official video:

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