Rachel Brown and The Beatnik Playboys – Look Who’s Back

Album Review | Self Release | Review by Marc Higgins | Stars: 4/5

Rachel is a considerable talent, a powerful vocalist and a fine piano player. Both her voice and her playing adapt easily to fit the furious bar blues and the torch songs the band play so well. Rachel Brown’s rich voice draws on Country, Rock n Roll, Rockabilly and sultry Jazz. “Look Whose Back” and “Count on Me Baby” place a warm Lyle Lovett like vocal against a pulsing jazz piano. On “Blue Diamond” Rachel’s vocal has the wonderful melancholic ring of Gillian Welch. “Blinders” is a smouldering piece of piano led blues with a killer violin from Emma Shook, guitar from Dave Huddleston and a huge vocal from Rachel. Well back from the microphone she just powers out of the speakers. Nathan Bell’s “Whisky You Win” is a potent song turned into an empty bottle anthem of regret. Rachel Brown wrings every note out beautifully, Nathan himself says, she makes his songs her own. “No Lock No Key” and “Acceptance” are exercises in restraint, jazzy percussion, sparse piano that is more Ellington or Evans than Bar Honky Tonk. Rachel’s emotional torch singer vocal just smoulders and burns on these stunning slower numbers. This album is equally suited to loud parties with a full house and those moments at 3am when the lights are low and the whisky wins.