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Gin Lady: Mother's Ruin

Swedish act Gin Lady, who surprised the world with their rocking self-titled debut in early 2012, are back with their sophomore release Mother's Ruin, this time out it's a double album with even more variety than we've seen from them previously. While the debut contained some elements from Black Bonzo, the prog act that some of the members were a part of prior, Gin Lady turned into an entirely new animal, as the band absorbed their 'classic rock' leanings as well as the Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, and prog influences for an entirely new sound. They take that even further here on Mother's Ruin.

Now, just because Mother's Ruin is a 2CD set, don't go thinking that Gin Lady are offering up some sprawling concept album or anything. My guess is the band are just on a tear as far as writing and creating new music is concerned, and Transubstans Records gave them the green light to release this as a double album to accomodate all the songs they had written and recorded. While some of the Purple/Heep elements do remain, the band go for an even deeper dip into traditional rock territory on this album. Hints of Humble Pie, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, Climax Blues Band, Cream, and The Faces are just as prominent, as much of the album has a bluesy, groove laden '70s swagger that relies less on powerful guitar & organ riffs (which the debut had plenty of) than it does on catchy hooks, emotional vocals, and rootsy rhythms that just pull you right in. Songs such as "Shine On (Song For Terry)", "High Flyer", and the title track bust right out of the gate with instantly memorable melodies, crisp instrumentation, and plenty of groove. While tracks like "Den of Wolves", "I Head For the Mountains", and "Learning How to Live", with their rootsy, bluesy/country twang, might jar some listeners who still look for the prog in Gin Lady's music, there's still no denying how catchy these tunes are. "All Because of You" sounds like a midnight jam between the Stones, Humble Pie, and The Allman Brothers Band, while "Listen What I Say" reminds of vintage Captain Beyond, complete with Magnus Kärnebro's awesome Rod Evans influenced vocal delivery and plenty of churning guitar & keyboard lines.

The haunting organ and soothing vocals on "Oh, Sweet Misery" will instantly take you back to the late '60s psychedelic scene, while "Rockin' Horse" is pure Status Quo styled hard rockin' boogie. The use of horns & soaring hooks on "Superlove" bring to mind acts like Chicago, Blood Sweat & Tears, and Climax Blues Band, and the band deliver some grinding, sweaty, heavy blues rock on "Ragged Man Blues", a song for all the Cream, Cactus, and Humble Pie lovers out there. There's a Traffic/Blind Faith vibe going on with "Far From Being OK", complemented nicely by some tasty guitar riffs & horns, as the '70s influences keep flowing. In fact, much of the rest of CD2 has that rootsy, bluesy, '70s thing going on, with "Thunder & Lightning" especially containing some tasty riffs & keyboards textures, and some fine solos from guitarist Joakim Karlsson.

You know, I can totally anticipate some fans not liking Mother's Ruin much on the first few listens. To me, this album is kind of like Gin Lady's Exile on Main St. from the Rolling Stones, a record that has many riches but it will take weeks, if not months, for all the rootsy gems to fully take hold of you. You have to give the band credit for releasing such a bold statement here; not only is it a double album, but there's little if any 'prog' on Mother's Ruin, which will probably alienate any of the remaining Black Bonzo fans. Saying that, there's MILLIONS of classic rock fans who would absolutely love what's going on here, so it will be up to Transubstans Records to make sure that this album gets out there and in the hands of rock fans who will certainly 'get' it.

Track Listing
CD 1
1 Mother's Ruin 3:25
2 Shine On (Song For Terry) 4:37
3 High Flyer 3:30
4 Learning How To Live 4:41
5 Den Of Wolves 3:40
6 I Head For The Mountains 3:50
7 All Because Of You 5:20
8 Listen What I Say 3:48
9 Oh, Sweet Misery 4:27

CD 2
1 Rockin' Horse 2:53
2 Superlove 4:13
3 Ragged Man Blues 4:30
4 Far From Being OK 5:54
5 Lipstick Woman
6 Someday 4:07
7 Thunder & Lightning 4:05
8 Big Bad Wolf 2:39

Added: June 27th 2013
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 8486
Language: english

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Gin Lady: Mother's Ruin
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2013-06-27 16:50:58
My Score:

With the benefit of hindsight it would appear that the debut Gin Lady album found a band in transition, what with the classic rock inspired outfit morphing out of the progressively tinged 70s heavy rock inspired act Black Bonzo, into a reasonably straight-up modernising of classic Deep Purple and Uriah Heep. So with GL album number two, Mother's Ruin, that shape shifting is taken a step further with the obvious heavy rock feel now also almost completely left behind for something altogether more languid. Think The Doors, The Faces or Humble Pie all at their most laid back and you'll have a strong idea of where this Gin Lady is drunkenly stuporing. Now cards on the table at this stage, not only were Black Bonzo a band I had a real strong affinity with, but the likes of The Doors never have and never will do anything for me at all. So truth be told you need to take that into account when I say that on the evidence of Mother's Ruin, it may well be with regret that at this stage in our long relationship, me and the band formerly known as Black Bonzo, go our separate ways.

Things start well enough with the simple stomp of the album's title track surging with energy and purpose through a keenly attacked riff and simple beat, creating a song virtually impossible not to shake your booty to. Add to that an oft repeated chorus line and there's little doubt that you'll be thoroughly hooked after just one listen - I was and still am. However from there the rest of the seventeen song and two disc set settles into a mid paced groove that simply lacks the required drive and focus to hold the attention. Different sounds, beats and guitar approaches are employed, but in the end differentiating between the songs becomes a challenge and chore, rather than the joyful experience hoped for. Don't get me wrong, the songs are keenly crafted, the believability of the band beyond question and the sheer 70s authenticity undeniable. So much so that as with the previous - and much more varied and interesting - Gin Lady outing, calling what this band do "retro" would be unkind, instead Gin Lady sound like an act from the early 70s, not an act trying to sound like they're from the early 70s.

Some tracks do in fairness hold more sway than others, with the shimmering mix of early Fleetwood Mac and Steely Dan of "High Flyer" capturing the imagination in an undoubtedly relaxed manner, while "Listen What I Say" provides a sassy shimmer. However too often the likes of "Shine On (Song For Terry)" or "Learning How To Live" simply meander along without any real sense of purpose.

Died in the wool Black Bonzo fans probably lost interest in what their one time heroes were doing with the debut Gin Lady album. However even for someone like me who thought the first offering from this re-branded outfit held a strong and lasting charm, Mother's Ruin is a step too far out of prog and heavy rock finding instead a place slap bang in the centre of middle of the road blandness.

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