Art & Commerce
Cincinnati Post 12-28-07 The Bluebirds are releasing a studio project, 'The Brawny Lads Art and Commerce,' a great collection of originals and covers in the band's trademark rock 'n' R&B sound. The band has never sounded better with the return of former members Rick 'Bam' Powell (drums) and Charlie Fletcher (keyboards) to complement Marcos Sastre (vocals/guitar). The foursome is rounded out by bassist Mike Fletcher. While the group is often known as a jamming blues rock powerhouse, the new disc reminds us these guys can sing, with Charlie Fletcher, Sastre and Powell taking turns on lead vocals. The CD kicks off with Powell's soulful-groove vocals on 'Marathon Man,' a great adult pop rocker. 'It's about when you realize you are on a timetable,' Sastre said. 'You got a family and go, 'Hey, I got to make this work.' ' It quickly switches to Fletcher's spooky and demonic 'Charlestown,' a fine Halloween tale. Sastre kicks in his with his trademark growling gruff vocals on 'The Flash.' It's back to a swinging jazzy vibe on Powell's 'Lover.' It's a delightfully diverse sound, full of rich soul grooves rooted in '60s rock. And Sastre reminds us the music from the period was indeed a delightfully diverse sound as well: 'The era we come from, everything didn't sound the same and the radio didn't sound the same.' The band has some wonderfully unique cover arrangements on 'Whiter Shade of Pale,' which gets turned into an upbeat pop tune with Beach Boys-esque harmonies. They have a jamming version of 'Black Friday' that does Steely Dan proud and a haunting acoustic cover of John Lennon's 'I'm Only Sleeping.' There is also a solid groove version of Marvin Gaye's 'Inner City Blues' that reminds us those protest lyrics from the late '60s remain relevant today. 'They are so pertinent,' Sastre said. 'It shows everything in a big cycle. Even the Bluebirds seem to be in a big cycle.'