Earlier this year Hot Raisin released a full-band EP – Whiskey Ginger – and have quickly followed this up with their second release of the year. A more acoustic and stripped-back sounding EP called The Forge Sessions, recorded in a beautiful studio in deepest Norfolk.
I had the great pleasure of accompanying Mary, Tory, and Luke for a day in the Forge during the summer where they laid down four songs, two of them completely new, and the resulting EP sounds just gorgeous. Exactly how I imagined they might sound … but even better under the creative and sympathetic ways of Ida Mae’s Chris Turpin who produced, mixed and mastered the tracks.
It opens with Read Your Mind, one of their new additions to the set and sounding fantastic. Acoustic guitars and vocals clear and airy, I love the sound and Luke’s backing vocals and harmonies are spot-on, and the guitar playing wonderful. The closing of this song is a thing of great beauty.
This is followed by the familiar Embrace Me and has creative use of a lo-fi tin can mic for its intro. It also features warm and sumptuous upright bass from Kev, known to us all from The SweetBeats, Sefo Kanuteh & Meriya etc. The track has a really warm sound, mellow and melodic, haunting vocals from Tory, great playing by Mary, and again superb backing vocals by Luke.
Track three is another familiar set favourite Wolf in Me Skin and again has the great clarity and sparseness that I really love. You can clearly hear every guitar note and the layers of vocals.
The final track is another favourite, a re-working of an older song, once known as Conscious it was brought back into the set early this year and this slowed-down interpretation of it is now known as Take Me Over. It also features subtle crow song samples (recorded that very day outside The Forge) and has a few more studio effects and wizardry than the other tracks but very effectively and sympathetically, never overdone … again the final minute or so of the song features some great creativity by all concerned and is an absolutely gorgeous slow fade-out, the perfect way to close this EP.
What struck me on the day was just the extremes of all the things I already knew about them, the great talent they have and the hard work they put into everything, the ability of the playing, vocals and songwriting, they just do not sound like anyone else and this is to their great credit in my book. On top of all that they also, yet again, reinforced my opinion of them all as some of the loveliest people it has ever been my pleasure to meet. The vibe around the Forge too is so well-suited to creativity. Relaxed and beautiful with a good atmosphere, well-equipped and with Kev’s steady and laid-back attitude. Chris’ technique as producer, with a great sound engineer too and just listen to these fantastic results!
I first got hold of a copy when it was hot off the raisin press at The Guildhall recently, where they had a special Grapevine edition of it before the covers had even been printed. Later today there might well be an “OPEN Edition” when they support Wooden Arms on their long-awaited return to their home city for a Thursday night gig in the Club Room promoting their new album. Hot Raisin will be performing as the full five-piece electric Raisins and further support comes from Chalky Seas.
Hot Raisin also play at The Room in Gorleston on Saturday 3 February 2018.
all rights reserved (c) shashamane 2017