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Tess of the Circle are a British four-piece consisting of vocalist and guitarist Tess Jones (who is male), Lee Clifton on lead guitar, and a new rhythm section of bassist Ben Drummond and Paul Stone on drums. ‘Amplify’ is the follow up to 2013’s ‘Thorns’ and, with this release, the band hope to build on the significant exposure they’ve had; for example, live sessions on BBC Radio 2 airplay on Planet Rock and Absolute Radio.

The album, from a personal perspective, encompasses two distinct and contrasting styles. There are up-tempo, rocky tracks and slower, acoustic, almost folk-rock type songs. It begins with three of the heavier, pacier tracks. ‘Love Is The Drug That You Crave’ is catchy and quite melodic whilst ‘I’m Not Ashamed’, with its hints at Nirvana, and ‘You Take Me Out Of My Head’ with its Soundgarden-esque intro, could almost be termed 21st century grunge.

The fourth track, and the first of the slower, folky style tracks is ‘Believe (Into Her Arms)’. This is a really good song, sung passionately, with a military drum beat keeping time throughout. The next brace of tracks, ‘Mother Daughter Son’ and ‘Digging At My Bones’ are up-tempo but this, for me, is where the album is weakest. Each track is okay in itself but nothing really stands out. Track seven, again, sees a change of tempo, with the catchy but less rocky ‘Face The Changes’. ‘Drowning Without You’ follows with an insistent, staccato riff and an excellent latin style guitar solo.

The closing three tracks, personally speaking, are collectively the highlight of this release. All three are slower songs but are infused with passion and feeling. ‘Summer Rain’ is a slow-building but intense anthem, reminiscent of The Cult in places, while ‘The Waves Break Us Down’ and ‘This Higher Ground’ are wonderful acoustic tracks, complete with string accompaniment.

As stated above, this release is a collection of contrasting styles. The more up-tempo, rockier tracks are good and performed well but, for me, the slower, more considered, cuts have something about them which sets them above their heavier counterparts. The two tracks that close the album, in particular, are superb. All in all, whether you like the heavier side of things or prefer something a little quieter and more reflective, you should find at least a handful of tracks that really appeal and, if you have a reasonably broad musical taste, you’ll probably appreciate this release as a whole.
Vintage Voice Records
Review by Dave Uphill
22nd April 2016
1) Love is the Drug that You Crave
2) I'm Not Ashamed
3) You Take Me Out of My Head
4) Believe (Into Her Arms)
5) Mother Daughter Son
6) Digging at My Bones
7) Face the Changes
8) Drowning Without You
9) Summer Rain
10) The Waves Break Us Down
11) This Higher Ground
"The more up-tempo, rockier tracks are good and performed well but... the slower, more considered, cuts have something about them which sets them above their heavier counterparts."