There comes a time in most bands and artists’ careers when they decide to dip their toes in live album territory. Sooner rather than later for some. In the case of Chantel McGregor, she’s been a presence on the scene for many years now, and has evidently deemed the time to be right for showcasing her musical talents via ‘Bury’d Alive’; the audio from a show at The Apex in Bury St Edmunds on 29th of March this year.
While Chantel can’t claim a recorded prolificacy, with only two studio albums to her name thus far - 2011’s ‘Like No Other’ and 2015’s ‘Lose Control’ - she’s emphatically made her mark on the live circuit, in the UK and beyond, with countless tours, festival appearances, etc. So it’s apposite, in this sense, that her seemingly four year gap between albums has seen her deliver a live one in 2019. And it’s a corker!
Minimalist in terms of constitution, with just a bassist and drummer joining her on stage (Colin Sutton and Thom Gardner), there’s nothing stripped down about a Chantel McGregor live experience. An amazingly full, resonant sound, we’re in the realm of power trios here, and this triumvirate of musicians deliver on all fronts. Some songs have a greater rock vibrancy than their recorded counterparts (such as ‘Take the Power’ and ‘Killing Time’), while others reach even greater sublime heights than ever before (notably, ‘Eternal Dream’).
While Chantel’s made what seems to be an indelible impression within the blues scene, her music is so much more beyond just blues, and certainly transcendent of any traditional notion of the genre when it can be construed as blues. Her love of prog and rock shines through her compositions, and even some metal levels of heaviness, which can be heard on ‘Bury’d Alive’ in the most organic of ways. Organic because of her natural abilities, via voice and fretboard, that come to the fore in a live context. Her guitar work continues to impress me immensely; proving herself on ‘Bury’d Alive’ to be amongst the very finest of naturally gifted UK players currently out there in the scene. Her ability to express a whole ton of emotional profundity through her solos is breathtaking.
It’s also worth noting that it states within the packaging: “There are no overdubs or electronic trickery”. No overdubs?! Wow. Now this makes ‘Bury’d Alive’ an even more impressive achievement and release. I’ve always been in favour of live albums entirely free from overdubs, even if mistakes can be heard. After all, it’s our mistakes that make us human, right? And it’s always refreshing to hear music that sounds human. Some bigger bands will release live albums that are overdub-free but are an amalgam of several live shows, and the best, glitch-free performances of each track are cherry-picked from recordings of multiple gigs. I've always kind of regarded that as cheating in one sense. That’s not the case here. It’s glitch-free to my ears, and from one show, without any post-gig tampering. Respect! To Chantel and her band. No safety net whatsoever. Go girl!
It’s been four years since I last covered a Chantel McGregor gig and the overwhelming feeling I’m left with after listening to this marvel of live albums is that I need to get to another one asap! As a snapshot of a moment in time of where Chantel’s at as a live performer in 2019, this is proof she’s a musical force that deserves to be much wider known than she currently is. Phenomenal stuff.
Tis Rock Music
Review by Mark Holmes
6th Sept 2019
1) Take the Power
2) Killing Time
3) Like No Other
4) Caught Out
5) Eternal Dream
6) Lose Control
8) Your Fever
10) Walk on Land
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"As a snapshot of a moment in time of where Chantel’s at as a live performer in 2019, this is proof she’s a musical force that deserves to be much wider known than she currently is. Phenomenal stuff."