Manchester band Proud Mary are back after a seven-year break with their new album Songs From Catalina, out 26th June. Proud Mary comprises Greg Griffin (vocals), Paul ‘Spot’ Newsome (guitars, bass, keys, drums, harmonica and vocals), Nathan Birkett (bass, keys, guitars, vocals), Tony Auton (guitars, mandolin, vocals), and Hani Abbasi (drums, percussion and vocals).
Back in 2001 they were the first band to be signed to Noel Gallagher’s SourMash label and produced their best-selling album to date, The Same Old Blues, supporting artists such as Neil Young, The Who, Black Crowes and Paul Weller. The follow-up album Love and Light in 2004 on Redemption Records, was not as commercially successful but did birth some hits including Mexico and The Blues.
Then they formed their own own record label. Newsome recalls “We had our own recording studio in Venice Beach LA and a solid fan base so we believed, maybe naïvely, we could do it alone,” “Financially and creatively it worked okay and we kept the existing fanbase happy, but we never really expanded on that as we never engaged with the press or pluggers, so no-one out of the circle knew what we were up to.”
But now, after almost a decade, they are back. The album was recorded at Palam studios in the Santa Catalina area of Palma, Mallorca over a period of five months. Easy Tiger starts off the album. This is a languid, blues-infused, piece of rock, and like the title, is easy-going in sound. The tempo picks up more on Spaces and Places with effective harmonies and a chiming interspersed rhythm that reminds me of Sunday Morning by The Velvet Underground.
Lazy Days and Loaded Nights has a confident thumping bass. This is catchy and has a nostalgic 70s feel and sound, combined with great keyboards and guitar that pull it all together really well. Keep It Moving is another strong, buoyant song. It combines a John Lennon style vocal with a Tom Petty, country-style vibe. I love the mixture of guitar infused with piano.
Wonderland is deceptive because it starts quite unhurried as if it’s going nowhere. Then insidiously, about 90 seconds in, you start tapping your feet. A slow burner. Final song Oxwich Bay warms the heart. It’s like sitting around a fire with a great piece of bluesy guitar and the soulful lyrics: By the light of your love, for the love of your life, their dreams were made in heaven, in Oxwich Bay that night.
An interesting mixture. Songs of Catalina starts really well with some laidback sounds and harmonies. But then somewhere in the middle, the songs start to meander and this starts to let it down. However, it redeems itself with a fusion of heart-warming lyrics and some likeable hooks and grooves (including mandolin and harmonica). Get this on your stereo on a sunny day.