With the release of their much vaunted debut, Kitty, Daisy & Lewis stirred up some forgotten dust as they regaled audiences with a strikingly authentic rockabilly sound. Fans of older music styles like R&B, swing, and roots praised the album for it’s nostalgic feel, while contemporary music lovers were simply refreshed by its shameless retro quality. Even Chris Martin was impressed, as he hand picked the band for Coldplay’s 2009 US Tour. Riding in the formidable wake of that first effort, Kitty, Daisy & Lewis manage to raise the bar yet again with the follow up, Smoking In Heaven. It kicks like a mule and slaps you in the face with just the right amount sass.
Opening with the delightful ‘Tomorrow’ (which sounds suspiciously like the Flight of the Conchords theme), the album is an instant pleaser. The band’s diversity is quickly established with a vibrant little ska number, complete with upbeat Caribbean sounds courtesy of legendary trumpeter Eddie ‘Tan Tan’ Thornton. Even more bases are covered here than their previous recording; with soul now also added to their already impressive repertoire, the siblings are becoming quite the multi-faceted trio. When genre hopping to this degree, one expects a decline in quality, but there’s no real decline to speak of – they coast from country to old school blues and on to swing with panache. They’re really playing beyond their years here, mastering styles with the minimum of fuss and upstaging some veterans.
The title track stands out above the rest, as any eight-minute grubby jam session should. It’s one of three tracks on this record where the band have chosen to omit vocals. A strange move, perhaps, seeing as they were such an integral part of the last album, but these instrumental tracks have just as much, if not more, playability; the trio are beginning to show real confidence in their abilities as musicians. These instrumental explorations are a real treat and can easily rival the likes of Canned Heat or Creedence for balls-out rhythmic jamming.
If you were taken with their first record then you’ll definitely like this. Unless of course you can’t stand the sound of ska for some reason, in which case there’s probably something wrong with you. The sheer variety of styles on Smoking In Heaven means that almost anyone can enjoy it on some level. Plus, it’s release date could not be more perfectly timed. As summer rolls in this album will no doubt be wafting through the sunniest of kitchens and probably even playing the role of chef at some barbecues.