Devils & Godsby Jannike Bergh / 25.11.2009
It has been seven years since Albert Frost last released an album under his own name. 2002’s release of the limited edition Catfish Blues cemented him as one of South Africa’s favourite guitarists for the quirky manner in which he engages with the blues. In that same year he collaborated with keyboardist Simon Orange in on the Frosted Orange album My Love is a Leopard. Apart from sharing the stage and recording with prominent figures such as Valiant Swart, Arno Carstens and Riku Lätti throughout the years, Albert Frost’s debut album has been a long time coming.
It has to be said that, after all this time, it is rather disappointing to only find six tracks on the album. Any fan would want to hear more, because this handful of songs is a solid indication of where Albert Frost has been and where his music is heading.
Blues guitar underlies much of the album, but that catfish keeps on slipping out from underneath his fingers. The most straightforward blues number is the cover of Willie Dixon’s, “Spoonful”. But Frost’s version stands firmly among the many interpretations of the song, made more familiar by musicians such as Eric Clapton and Canned Heat. The powerful slide guitar and heavy riff, alongside one of the most desired rhythm sections in the country – Lanie van der Walt (bass) and Jorik Pienaar (drums) – has made this number imperative at Albert Frost Trio gigs.
Throughout the album the songs are solid, combined with pop sensibility and slick guitar playing. A song like, “Only Us” resonates very strongly within this vein of musical ability and radio-friendly songwriting. Much of the album echoes the sounds of Frosted Orange. Interestingly, “Son of the Sun” and “Television” were co-written by Frost and Simon Orange.
The most defining track on the album is the title track, “Devils & Gods” – innovative and reminiscent of Irish guitar legend Rory Gallagher’s often playful take on the blues, with Frost mimicking the catchy guitar lick with his voice. The song also flows eloquently between past and present styles – it is blues translated within the dialect of contemporary South African rock.
It’s an embodiment of Albert Frost’s musical direction – if only he gave fans more from where this was coming from.