Express & Star

Wolverhampton's Rebecca Downes, More Sinner Than Saint - album review

We always hear talk in the media of football clubs using others' success as a blueprint for their own progression - and Wolverhampton's Rebecca Downes should be held up as similar inspiration for all our local musicians.

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The album cover

The Finchfield-born musician, who now calls Birmingham home, has released album number three on her own Mad Hat Records label.

READ MORE: Wolverhampton's Rebecca Downes goes back to her roots with hometown gig

Pushing away from her blues girl roots this album has a decidedly heavier rock feel. It's one of those rock-opera vibes with soaring choruses and wailing guitars. And the glue that keeps it all moving is Rebecca's exceptional voice.

She has done well to propel herself onto a big enough platform to be able to work on her third record with the likes of producer Chris Kimsey (The Rolling Stones, Peter Frampton, Marillion, YES), Thunder’s Chris Childs and Bill Drescher (The Bangles, Rick Springfield). And the result is brilliant.

Wolverhampton's Rebecca Downes

That huge chorus to Screaming Your Name is the perfect example. Its layered sound carries the vocals magnificently as jaunty synths hang around perilously behind the guitar-driven frontal assault from.

The electronics from Magnum's Rick Benton play a big part in the record. The intro on title track More Sinner Than Saint is like something from a fairground organ of years gone by. The various elements build themselves over the top, the funk-filled bass from Dan Clark being particularly gripping here.

READ MORE: Wolverhampton blues rocker Rebecca Downes talks ahead of Midlands shows

These production values are also prevalent in In Reverse - the way that track builds to its emotive crescendo complete with string accompaniments is reminiscent of a Bond theme.

Rebecca is a former winner of the Female Vocalist of the Year awards at both the British Blues Awards in 2016 and the FORM UK Blues Awards last year, and it's easy to understand why when you hear the power contained within it on this album.

READ MORE: Wolverhampton-singer Rebecca Downes wins two British Blues Awards

The huge melodies in Big Sky help her voice even more. There's an aggy approach to the music here and it accentuates the gritty tones of her lower note range as Steve Birkett's guitars growl.

It's a perfectly crafted record from the musicianship to the production. The finished album should hopefully bring her some added commercial success to go with the critical accolades heaped on her previously.

Rating: 8/10

Rebecca Downes launches her album at Wolverhampton's Vinyl & Vintage record shop on Cleveland Street between noon and 1.30pm tomorrow. Entry is free.