Christopher Rees & Band 'Hearts On Fire' Red Eye Music

This album represents something of a new departure for Rees as he has recorded it with The South Austin Horns and he plunges headlong into his musical soul. The soul of Otis Redding that is. It is steeped in brass and Hammond organ while still having Rees' distinctive voice at it's core. Now what passes for soul music tends to leave me cold for the most part I'm still partial to a little, Redding, Pickett and Stax Record grooves. Hearts On Fire may not appeal to purists, much as many bluegrass and country paramilitaries may have found Rees previous albums a little left of field for their tastes. Be that as it may be Christopher Rees is writer, producer and mixer as well as label boss on this outing and he has worked on this album in both Austin and Welsh studios. It is an spirited set of songs that covers a range of bases from the rampant rockabilly/rock 'n' roll of In Warm By My Fire, which links with Rees previous work. Stripped down to a simple live setting many of these songs would fit easily beside his previous songs. Here he adds that layers of well arranged brass riffs to give the songs extra propulsion and soul. Morning Light is delivered at a slower pace that give Rees room to let his voice the space to deliver a telling and troubled tale of optimist love. The songs still show a troubled soul but this time out they're allied to tingling soul tremors. The slower paced songs the ones, as mentioned where Rees vocal take on the spectre of soul's golden age. Overall I think by preference is for Rees de-horned work but this is still a substantial achievement in that he has been able to add another flavour that reflects his love of classic soul to an already open ended musical base. A song like Unstoppable which was recorded as a trio with Rees on guitars and bass, Dan Tilbury on drums and Simon Rooney still retains the overall feel but in a brass free way that shows the musical variety on offer on Hearts On Fire. It will be interesting to see where Christopher Rees takes his music in the future but here he has delivered an album that many will enjoy for its own sake and within the parameters that it has set itself.