Bywater Call – Remain
Gypsy Soul Records – 2022
11 tracks; 52 minutes
Based in Toronto, Canada, Bywater Call is a seven piece band axed round the vocals of Meghan Parnell, supported by Dave Barnes on guitar, Alan Zemaitis on keys, the rhythm section of drummer Bruce McCarthy and bassist Mike Meusel and horns from Stephen Dyte (trumpet/valve trombone) and Julian Nalli (saxophones); B/V’s are by Tafari Anthony and Stacie Tabb, percussion by Mario Allende, producer Renan Yildizdogan plays mellotron on one cut, engineer Ross Hayes Citrullo bowed guitar on one. This is their second album release and all the material is credited to the band, with Tom Juhas contributing to two songs.
“Falls Away” is a piece of Southern Rock based round a core guitar riff over which Meghan sings forcefully, the central solo played on slide, the horns remaining in the background on this opener. The horns play a larger part on “Lover Down Slow”, Dave’s slide work and Meghan’s vocals also well featured before the title track “Remain”, another slower-paced tune with a gospel sound to the chorus and defiant vocals from Meghan. “Let Me Be Wrong” completes a trio of quieter tunes with the melodic sound enhanced by the addition of mellotron to the chorus. Meghan does not wish to get “Left Behind” as piano, horns and slide feature, another tune with a rousing chorus before the band gets funky on “Sea We Swim”, keyboard man Alan featuring on organ.
“Ties That Bind” chugs along, Meghan well supported by the backing vocalists to provide another stirring, horn-heavy chorus. The pace slows for “Fortune”, Meghan singing passionately about not being able to “hide in another man’s fortune, you can’t find the love that will bring you home”; “Go Alone” is another anthemic tune with a full band sound as the horns stand out behind Meghan’s vocals, the second half of the tune dominated by a moody slide breakdown. Meghan is stuck waiting on a lover’s call in “Locked”, the opening section of organ accompaniment gradually building in intensity as the song progresses, fine vocals with plenty of soul. The final track is “Bring It Back”, a real stomper with insistent drums from the start and a great, uptempo performance all round to close out this impressive album.
Perhaps it’s the full band sound with horns, perhaps the slide and powerful female vocals, but, for this reviewer, there is a Tedeschi Trucks feel to Bywater Call’s music on this album. Meghan’s voice at times has a similar timbre to Susan Tedeschi’s; she has fewer changes of style and approach than Susan, though those may come as she develops her considerable talents. Elements of rock, soul and blues combine to good effect on this disc, meaning that there is plenty to enjoy here and I suspect that the band would be terrific live.
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