Saturday, April 15, 2017

Rhett May - Creatures of the Night

Rhett May - Creatures of the Night 

Creatures of the Night is a thirteen song release from Australian based singer/songwriter Rhett May. May’s long tenure in popular music has seen him experience considerable commercial success in multiple decades and his time away from the music world saw no dimming of his considerable talents. May’s career began in the mid 1960’s when he formed his first band, The Wooly Bullys, at the age of fifteen and this formative unit morphed into The Flint Stones. May and his band experienced considerable success in his native India and that notoriety spilled over to live appearances throughout the Far East and the United Kingdom as well. May left India in 1969 and moved to Australia where he formed another band, Lucifer, who logged considerable stage time opening for bands and performers touring down under – Ray Charles and Queen, among others. The popularity of disco sabotaged any further efforts to elevate their profile and May, along with many other musicians, soon found himself on the outside looking in when it came to his musical career. It wasn’t until over thirty years later that May returned with a 2013 EP release and his latest effort, Creatures of the Night, underscores how successful his return to the musical world has been. 

Much of Creatures of the Night leans in the rock direction, but never falls for the standard tropes and poses that we so often rightly associate with the form. Rhett May has an energetic way of attacking those sort of songs thanks to his inspired approach to song construction and has such command over the genre’s fundamentals that it’s impossible to not find yourself drawn in. “Back Seat of My Chevy” doesn’t have such a heavy hand and whips up an assortment of recognizable imagery while still striking an individual note. The acoustic guitar opening the song soon gives way to its electric counterpart, but it never goes away and provides a firm foundation for the rhythm track. The title song has a theatrical air that May presents in just the right way and his vocals help contribute much to the performance. “Latex Lady” is the album’s first single and it has a forceful musical attack without ever overpowering the listener. May really succeeds here and elsewhere at creating characters rather than just simply concerning himself with his point of view. The drumming has a crisp snap that sets a tone from the first. 

There’s a number of strong tracks during the album’s second half, but the marquee moments come with the extended piece “Elixir of the Gods”, “Symphony of Sorrow”, and “When We Make Love”. Each of these songs are radically different from one another. “Elixir of the Gods” revisits the sounds of May’s Calcutta childhood in a very credible way and its exotic tastefulness is a standout moment on the album. “Symphony of Sorrow” changes gears quite a bit and ditches the six string workout heard on other tracks and pursues a hard-hitting rhythm section approach. “When We Make Love” concludes the album with a turn to blues and jazz that many listeners will find great fun. Rhett May’s return to music has paid handsome artistic dividends and Creatures of the Night is his greatest release yet. 

9 out of 10 stars 

Scott Wigley

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