Marcus Bonfanti: Hard Times

~ Sunday, 28 June 2009
There are not many people who can capture the raw spirit of the blues. So it comes as a bit of a surprise when the debut album from Londoner Marcus Bonfanti drops through the door, as capturing the spirit is exactly what he has done.

In a previous life, Bonfanti was guitarist for the abysmal chart topper Sandi Thom, but we wont hold that against him. Now he is signed to Scottish independent, The Guitar label, home to legendary Jazz guitarist Martin Taylor.

The album mixes acoustic and electric blues which owes a debt to the likes of John Lee Hooker and Robert Johnson. One thing that links the whole album together is Bonfanti's rasping whisky soaked vocals, which are hair raising throughout.

For those who like there blues dirty, then you won't be disappointed. Opener Diamonds In The Rust, a slide driven workout and ode to bad love and the title track, the best track on the album, are as dirty as they come. Up there with them is Knock Me Down with it's clap along chorus.

The album has its mellower moments with the countrified Waitin' For My Love and When You Come Home. The acoustic The Girl I Knew is a great finger style piece and a highlight of the album, while Judgement Day shows a slightly popier side to his songwriting.

As debut albums go, this is a mighty fine piece of work. The production is perfectly suited to bringing out the warmth of Bonfanti's formidable guitar skills and we are sure that this will be the start of a successful career. Old blues men from the Mississippi delta would sell their soul to the Devil to make music like this.

[][][][] (4/5)