This one is a handful and a real joy to dig into! The entire album will catch you up and not let you down till that final note. Indeed Birchwood’s third Alligator release is the one when the training wheels come off and we not only get to two wheels we also get those wheels off the ground! ‘Living in a Burning House’ is the sound of the strands of countless influences coming together again and forming something excitingly new.
You’ll love the horns and fiery guitar of opener ‘I’d Climb Mountains’ as Selwyn’s voice competes with some wonderful sax for your initial attention, and that attention will be held until teh very last notes of ‘My Happy Place’ which closes out the album with a refreshingly epic feel light a bright new day.
In between though there’s plenty of magic – from the slide, sax and funk of ‘I Got Drunk Laid And Stoned’; the wonderfully fluid title track ‘Living In A Burning House’ and the defiant ‘You Can’t Steal My Shine’. Elsewhere we mix it up with the funk of ‘Revelation’ and the Bluesier ‘Searching For My Tribe’ or the shuffle of ‘Mama Knows Best’. You can’t fail to be impressed wherever the needle lands!
For me though it’s so hard to pick favourites, which is always the sign of a great record. At a push I’d put forward the soulful ‘She’s a Dime’ and the lap steel of ‘Freaks Come Out At Night’ – two wonderful songs. Maybe ‘Through the microphone’ too for the Albert Collins licks. But it truth it’s all great.
Birchwood writes and arranges all the songs here, and it sounds great. The writing and playing is thoughtful and tried and tested and yet somehow still retains that illusive element of wonder and sounds so very fresh. And whilst there are certainly elements of Prog Rock in the mix this is still at heart an album with its bedrock in the Blues.
8 / 10
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