* Album of The Month (October 2021) *
(5 / 5)
There’s a big fat clue as to how good this record is, in the album’s title. Glorious. Fact.
Two killer vocalists, some finely crafted original material, exemplary musicianship and bang on production values combine to deliver a heck of a punch.
New names to me. Jessica Greenfield and Gavin Conder are the Kondoors. Husband and wife, with 16 years together. Gifted musical collaborators. A perfect fit as a duo vocally.
The 11 cuts here are drenched in soul, and worthy of a major label release and serious $ chucked at it. Really.
Jessica is a backing vocalist with ex-Oasis man Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. We all gotta pay the bills, but as a backing singer for another artist, having now heard her on this album; what a waste of a sensational voice.
Both Gavin and Jessica sing lead and backing vocals on their own album. They have called upon a crack team of session players, especially guitarist Scott McKeon, who has played for Tom Jones among others. String arrangements in this set add huge value; courtesy of David William Hearn and delivered by Virginia Slater (viola), Perry Montague (1st violin), Marianne Haynes (2nd violin) and Ian Burdge (cello).
Production values are faultless. The vocals are crystal clear and there’s no gilding the lily at all from too much “production”. We can thank Paul Stacey for that (Oasis, Noel Gallagher, Black Crowes), who co-produced with Jessica and Gavin.
There are songs on here that will surely be picked up by major artists to cover, one day. There are tracks on here crying out for sync deals for TV and movie soundtracks. Kerchiing!
Four of the 11 penned by Conder and Greenfield, the rest co-written by the pair and various others.
My attention was well and truly held from the off; with the wonderful soulful Al Green meets James Morrison-style “Never Be The One” which opens proceedings in fine fettle. Both voices share lead duties, and Gavin’s gravel-throated delivery and Jessica’s soaring, from the heart vocals are stunning.
But the song itself is a cracker (penned by Greenfield and Krantz). It almost sounds like a long lost Motown or Atlantic deep cut, dug up from the vaults.
But track two, “Forgiveness” is the first song they shared vocals on and when they realised they’d struck gold. Their voices were made to be put together. The song itself is: WOW! Another Greenfield and Krantz co-write. Their vocals send shivers up and down the spine. Scott McKeon’s bluesy lead guitar break is perfect. Eric could not better it.
“Mister Rain” has a Coldplay/U2 vibe about it. “Overdose” put me in mind of Fleetwood Mac and Toto, with its South African sing-along refrain, drum pattern and chunky guitar riff.
Lovely ballad “Postcards” is ready-made for weddings’ first dances, and iPhones lit up at gigs and festivals. Sizzling guitar solo. Jessica’s back of the throat rasping vocal ad libs are spot on. I’d have closed the set with this show stopping track, rather than place it at # five of the 11 here.
Raunchy and rockin’ Rolling Stones vibes on the fantastic “Good Times”. Love this one. Their vocals are on fire. Drummer Simon Lea is bang on it, literally, as are the two guitarists McKeon and Ben Jones. The song penned by Greenfield, Conder and Brown. Watch the lockdown session of this song, below:
They channel Otis Redding on the ballad “I.O.U”, turning out yet more stunning vocals together. Change of vibe with the infectious “Take Me Home”, which has that moody Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison, Chris Isaak feel, and hooks you in with it’s sing-along “whoa whoa oh oh oh’s”. The drums add big value.
Title track “Glorious” is a really beautifully written and performed, string-soaked ballad, featuring an other-worldly vocal from Jessica. In fact, this could have been written for Joe Cocker to duet on with any superstar female artist. This song WILL get picked up for covers and for TV/movie soundtracks. Sure of it. I needed a minute after hearing this one……apt title for the track and the whole caboodle.
How do you follow that? They chose the superb “Need You Know”, with Gavin kicking off the lead vocal and putting me in mind of David Gray with his timbre. Great hook and slow burn build up to the track. Both voices soaked in emotion. Strings lift the whole thing. Just wonderful.
“Alright” closes affairs, which features some bizarre sound effect, which I assume is meant to sound like walking feet. A track that sounds like two separate songs, when at 2.22 it changes into a bass-centric funk number, with repeated refrains of “gonna be, gonna be, gonna be all right”.
A jam section where the band nail the groove and the bass and drums are deep in the pocket. Ending with whoops, cheers and clapping from the assembled musicians in the studio. Sounding a tad ‘scripted.’
I’d have closed the album with 10 songs, dropped track 11 and shifted the ballad “Postcards” or “Forgiveness” to the last slot. But that said, nothing at all can ever detract from this being a flipping marvellous debut album from The Kondoors.
For sure, one of the best things I – and my editor – have heard in 2021. Music Republic Magazine’s “Album Of The Month” (October), and a definite contender for one of the albums of the year in our annual “Best Of” round-up at the end of the year. Greenfield and Conder, aka The Kondoors: The Dream Team. Believe it.
Last word has to be; while Jessica has the starry job with a Gallagher and is definitely one of the best female singers to come out of the UK in decades.
Her other half, sought-after session man Gavin is well and truly up there with the best male rock/blues and soul singers out there right now.
Check out his gob smacking vocals on YouTube videos with The Rufus Black Band. Paul Rodgers eat your heart out!
By Nick Best
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
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(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’