Take Little Walter, Howlin’ Wolf, Captain Beefheart, and Tom Waits on a road trip to Greece, introduce them to the locals, hand them some instruments, and the Small Blues Trap could start to be added together. This is an interesting group of musicians with many influences that go well beyond the four mentioned musicians. The Tom Waits reference shows up more in the vocals than anywhere else. Although some of the songs have that carnival music atmosphere that Waits plays so effectively.
Small Blues Trap is a group that can’t really be classified as any one style. They play music with deep influences from the American dirt. Many of the rhythms here hail back to the sounds of Elmore James, Jimmy Reed, or Muddy, but have an updated twist. This group is excellent at creating moods and atmosphere with the music. “Crossroad Ritual” and “Up and Down” are two perfect examples and highlight the album. The downside of the album is that the songs all start to sound alike after awhile. “Vat 69” is a three-and-a-half-minute song that feels like it lasts longer due to the fact that it is just one groove over and over. The groove is not strong and is just there. It doesn’t jump out, doesn’t get ya groovin’ at all.
“Crossroad Ritual” has a dark, gothic atmosphere. This might be the first Goth-Blues album I’ve heard. You can also describe the album as haunting, eerie, or foreboding. These aren’t words I’ve ever used on a review before, but that’s what you get here. This is definitely not an album full of old Blues licks that have been buried long ago. SBT present a new sound ode to old styles.
If you would like to hear Blues played with an orange twist, then try this album out. Most of the population who are more accustomed to the Tommy Castro-type of Blues won’t be jumping for this album. This album will well suit the folks who like hearing an array of sounds on the seedier side of the tracks. For a group of guys from Greece, they have tapped into the dirty American soil and taken a mouthful.
Kyle M. Palarino