CERI JUSTICE – Walk In Shadow (own label)

Walk In ShadowHaving released her punchy, rocky debut back in 2019, the Irish-blood Solihull singer-songwriter returns keeping the power still pretty much turned up with her vocals at times reminiscent of the raunchier side of Carol Decker. While playing live she has a band backing, Walk In Shadow is, save for strings and pedal steel on one track, impressively just her and multi-instrumentalist producer Paul Johnston, opening in swaggery bluesy form with ‘Wanted’, underlining the solid blue collar bar band nature of her sound. Beginning with an electronic hum, the pace pulls back to a slower, snakier groove with ‘The Creek’, which initially seems to be a brooding portrait of the sort of toxic guy you really don’t want to strike up a liaison with  (“Fork-tongue runs away with you/When you start to speak …The aura of corruption/Follows you around… Love shatters into pieces/When lust is all you seek/Selfish schemes and broken dreams”), but is actually about the treatment of the Native Americans. (“Stolen generation/Took away their land/Put your chains around them/Could not make a stand.”)

It’s  back then to  a chugging guitar and drums rock number for ‘Now I See’, a  number about a deceiving heartbreaking ex  who “Trampled on my dreams” and the realisation that “love can be blind/A rush to the head that sends you reeling/When it falls apart you just need healing”.

As with the debut, there’s a couple of covers, first up nodding to her country influences with ‘Jolene’, taken at a slightly slower pace than the original  with the opening fiddle giving it a more forlorn mood before the drums kick in. In complete contrast the other gives a sassily sung country pop-rock swagger to Eddie and the Hot Rods classic ‘Do Anything You Wanna Do’ that sounds like it would go down a storm live.

Returning to the self-penned material and continuing down the path of broken hearts ‘Love’s Let Me Down’ is a slow, strings-soaked Americana sway to acoustic guitar and pedal steel, an equally ruminative sensibility informing the cascading chords, chiming guitars, tick tocking beat and softly sung ‘Got This Feeling’, a particular stand out and of a more upbeat nature (“One day I’ll be there in your arms/One look at your face and I’ll fall for your charms once again/You always could make it right”). Sandwiched between, however, it kicks back up again with the riff-driven ‘You Did What You Did’ where she decides the love rat should get his comeuppance (“Now you gotta pay cuz you had your fun/Gonna start talkin bout you… It wouldn’t take much for you to leave town/And she would feel better if you weren’t around… So hitch up your wagon and just roll on by/I’m done with your talkin’ and tired of your lies”).

One of two lengthy tracks, opening quietly with appropriate sound effects, the five-minute plus ‘Thunder’ starts out as a  sparsely arranged, mid-tempo number before a heavier drum, more tribal rhythm takes over to bolster the lyrics where new love has a more elemental rush (“Sends my spirit reeling/Sweeps me off the ground”) before it’s back to  sweaty saloon band strut and bluesy guitar riffery and sparking solo for the penultimate ‘Mess You Up’ where, having been walked over earlier, she’s reborn holding all the sexually charged aces and burning with animal passion. It ends  (save for the bonus remix of the rocking ‘JCC’ off the debut) with the wind effects intro to the eight-minute title track where, anchored by metronomic percussion, military drums and keening fiddle, she explores her Irish heritage with its call to “take me home”, and mention of County Cork, castle walls,  ancient halls, rivers, mountains  and a love that keeps growing “Wild and free as the Celtic sea”, a reference to the iconic parting glass and the sound of gunfire “cutting through this Rebel land” with the image of a woman waiting for her lover  away fighting with “this brave and marching band”.

Her profile is currently largely limited to Birmingham and the West Midlands where she gigs, but given the exposure Walk In Shadow should see her finding a much wider audience.

Mike Davies

Artist’s website: www.cerijustice.rocks

‘Angie Baby’ – official video: