The Fabulous Red Diesel is not your average jazz ensemble. The ensemble sits somewhere between jazz, rhythm and blues, rock, and sheer mayhem and it suits them. Their unique take on life and music have inspired many, but they follow their own path. A mix of different personalities, the band creates entertaining, self-aware shows and music which delights a wide audience. ‘Goddess The Sea Horse’ is their latest release and follows performance art shows including ‘Sparkly Bird’ and the album ‘The Queensbury House Sessions’. The album follows their modus operandi of creating hard-hitting tracks around emotions and observations of life as we live it. After several years of enjoying a somewhat low-key presence the Fabulous Red Diesel now pack prestigious venues such as the 606 Club in London where the album was released on April 6th .
‘Somewhere Beautiful’ sets the tone for the album with its emotional story of a relationship gone awry and the ensuing blame game. The enveloping arcs of sound carry the listener away on that boat Kat sings of as she heads toward, ‘somewhere beautiful where I won’t hear your voice anymore.’ Beautiful harmonies and a gorgeously worked trumpet line add tonal layers to this rich number. ‘Thank You’ is a tongue-in-cheek song for a man who sounds like a rogue. ‘Thank you for being so unkind, thank you for lying to me time and time again’ and many other foibles are deliciously put to words. The chorus goes something along the lines of ‘Thank you for being an a-hole, thank you for being such a tool’ and the music fits perfectly for someone who has finally bumped the rogue out of their life. A delicious kazoo solo sets the whole song off brilliantly as Kitty ejects the subject of the song from her life.
The album is a complete immersion in many emotions but all the tracks are touched with the subtle quirky brush that The Fabulous Red Diesel wields so well. The punchy lines of ’12 Beggars Would Ride’ are delivered over a bouncy romp of a number with a brilliant double solo and some very cool brass harmonies tucked tight around the lyrics.
The songs bring in local myths too. ‘Boneyard’ is about a piece of land Miss Kitty (and most of the band) believe is haunted. It is a park now, but it was once, so legend has it, a graveyard with the gravestones now removed so the song is about the possibility of hearing strange things and voices that can be heard there – can’t they? Set to a waltz rhythm that wafts and weaves itself through the music, like a ghost itself, it is an unusual and enchanting number. In contrast ‘Grooving Around’ is an up-tempo number about a woman of influence and ’Symmetry’ is a simply gorgeous track, introduced by a bass riff that continues throughout. Deeply moving, the track is an imaginary conversation between vocalist Miss Kitty and her deceased father. She sings of breaking out of his once-controlling influence and the revelations are sung with emotion and a newly found confidence as she breaks free of the emotional repression his influence once held over her. ‘I will not be scared, I won’t be denied, I am not invisible, I am not gonna hide. I am not your dirty little secret…I was worth it all along.’ She sings with heart.
The atmosphere lifts as the entire band rides out the carnival atmosphere on ‘Put that Woman Down’ – and how! Musical hall harmonies and frivolity override stark warnings about a certain woman of ill repute.
‘Vessel’ demonstrates the full musical impact the band is capable of as the song evolves, Kitty telling the story of a man and his dreams of this and that – akin to a flight through life really.
‘Bonsai Tree’ is about a long-standing friendship and worries about the future – will the friendship change, will it grow, or become deeper? Who knows? The track features a gorgeous trumpet duet in the second part.
The title track is ‘Goddess The Sea Horse’ and this is a bluesy, fluid, free-flowing track that suits the band and Miss Kitty’s voice perfectly. The story is about love, life, and religion. Seahorses, apparently are loving, and, and pairs dance together for hours each day so the idea here is perhaps we should base our lives on their example with our goddess being modelled on a Sea Horse. Beautiful changes in tempo and pace are worked into the track and you can almost imagine those sea horses dancing their daily waltz.
‘Dear Number 5’ is chill, calm, and relaxed. It is about writing to your future self, now placed in the ideal situation, and how you got there from where you are now – an interesting idea and the music certainly helps with the journey.
‘Joe Cool’ is a number with Latin rhythms and some very cool, rolling phrasing, and ‘Stars’ is about how we are all made from the same basic stuff but somehow things are not always shared outright. This time the Latin rhythm is of a slower pace and laid back and there is a clever 5/8 middle section that takes the listener by surprise and is very cleverly worked.
‘Summer End’ is about all getting on, sharing, caring, and being in the same vibe as each other – sunshine features heavily and you can imagine a long evening at the end of a gathering, chilled, laid back, listening to this deeply bluesy track, with gorgeous walking bass, topped by tripping trumpets, tricky percussion, and an amazing voice. Bliss.
There is so much to enjoy in this music. From the down-the-pub rowdiness of ‘Thank You’ to the lovely warping bass solo on ‘Groovin’ Around’ or the beautiful piano solo on ‘Symmetry’, the stellar supporting bass lines in ‘Vessel’ and ‘Summer End’ (which includes a great solo), the outstanding percussion on ‘Joe Cool’ or the blaring trumpet solo on ‘Goddess The Sea Horse’. There is a lot of musical enchantment on the album, all topped by Miss Kitty with her precise, clear, well-toned vocals. She delivers lyrics that make your heart sing as well as those which tell a darker story and infuses emotion into the music. The Fabulous Red Diesel is gaining more attention and about time too. This music is easy to have on in the background, but it won’t stay there. You cannot help but be drawn to the talent on show here, the vocals, the solos, and the all-around good feelings this band create. This is a great album and long may FRD continue to develop music that is as quirky as it is beautiful. We need this.