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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Claude Hay Rollercoaster Review

Release Date: September 9th 2016

Claude Hay

For years now Claude Hay has travelled the world and criss-crossed Australia playing venues small and large and wowing audiences with his earthy rock-infused, yet funky take on that thing we call The Blues. During that time he's given us three albums full of remarkable music, all laid down and played by the man himself; and all replicated by the one man onstage. Claude Hay live is a sight to behold there's so much power, so much life and energy, it's hard to believe that the drums, bass sounds, guitar and vocals are all emanating from the one man. But that barely scratches the surface as all the music is created with self-constructed technology from the pedals and loop-boxes right through to the guitars.

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Album number 4 is a little different in that Claude is now writing for a band. It's not strictly the first time Claude has worked with other 'real live' musicians - his last album 'I Love Hate You' employed a rhythm section and The Gentle Enemies project which may only have resulted in a single 'Borracho' (well worth checking out) saw him work as a three-piece.

Roller Coaster therefore is a slight departure, but one that adds plenty rather than taking anything away from the much. Hay's unique guitar and vocal style is still intact, the grit and funk and rock and rawness is still there and yet someone the feel is smoother, or rather more rounded, somehow fuller.

Opening with the rock funk simplicity of 'Burn' before getting far funkier with 'What it Takes' which becomes the perfect marriage of slide guitar and funky staccato bass driven along by a 'Sly' groove and Butler-esque vocal which hits like a train made of molasses.

'Forget About Me' adds space and warmth and light and love cut with delta guitar and smoky vocals; while the title track takes the vibe of The Black Keys and shows that Hay understands the essence of Robert Johnson and Howlin' Wolf and how to deconstruct and distill the essence of their music just as well if not better than the boys from Akron, Ohio.

The most interesting track at first listen 'Hold You Up' has a deftness, beauty and shimmer that almost makes you think of mega-million seller 'Adele', it's a little step away from comfort in pace if not construction but really bites and won't let go.

'Love No More' picks up the joy and sways and creeps and crawls down the street of a small southern town before dropping by a bar for a cold one; while '241' takes you inside that funky bar where a party is raging, unseen and unknown to the outside world, it's the sort of supercharged funky gem that Hay has done so well in the past and he explodes it nicely here.

On an album that is beautifully balanced and mixes it up nicely I have to say the track listing is spot on. 'Talk To the Hand' takes a strolling blues and crashes out of the bar into the night almost ready for a rumble, it's darker, full of great guitar and a nice counterpoint to the scratchy growl of the instrumental 'Road Rage'.

The album closes just fine too 'Winner' is a fun down-home 'hillbilly gospel' of a song that shines before the rather traditional rock riff of 'Running' again has that rather cool Black keys vibe over a seventies rock riff, that like the title track screams 'radio play me'. The album says goodbye with 'Never Say Goodbye', a slow mournful Americana blue highway lament that acts as the perfect come down song.

Roller Coaster is an album that means something, I'll leave you to argue whether its Claude's best but I happen to think it's his most beautifully constructed and well-rounded release to date. It's the perfect show case for the guy who really does have something to say, a man who it seems is at a new creative peak and isn't afraid to let his art have full reign over his output. There's no safety rail here no barriers, you should jump right in and enjoy.

What It Takes
Forget About Me
Roller Coaster
Hold You Up
Love No More
Talk to the Hand
Road Rage
Never Say Goodbye

Official Claude Hay website

Review by Mark Rockpit