Rhett May – Creatures of the Night
Some musical stories are more interesting than others. The story of an Englishman born in Calcutta, enlivened by the sounds of classic sixties music, transplanted to Australia by the dawn of the seventies, and then shut out of the musical ambitions he held so dear for thirty plus years before triumphantly reconnecting with that first love is the sort of tale one often finds in the movies. Rhett May’s newest album, Creatures of the Night, has the inspiration and verve of a performer and writer decades younger. This is an emboldened collection of thirteen tracks with a vast stylistic range that, nevertheless, comes together in a completely cohesive work. There are no gaps here. Everything holds together with intelligent and entertaining value that’s sure to connect with a wide audience. Creatures of the Night is an impressive release from anyone, but from this performer, Rhett May has re-established himself as one of the premier talents working today.
“Somebody’s Watching You” starts the album on a firm rock footing while never laying the guitar work too heavy. Instead, the guitar work crackles and pops alongside the drumming and a fleet-footed rhythm section supports it all ably. The first real evidence of May’s vocal inspiration comes with the two songs “Back Seat of my Chevy” and “Creatures of the Night”, the title song. The first of the two songs is a looking back of sorts kicking off with a steady acoustic guitar before evolving into a hard-kicking guitar rock track. The title song is a different kettle of fish entirely. May introduces piano here for the first time and it has an unique, slightly darkened swing with assertive drumming and background vocals that sweeten the song with compelling results. “Kiss Your Mama with that Mouth” begins with a deliberate pace, patiently building as it progresses, and May sings his heart out with equal parts passion and sensitivity in a song whose title doesn’t suggest much of the latter. The second half features on the album’s more memorable lead guitar solos.
“Elixir of the Gods” takes things in a distinctly different direction. This song conjures up some of May’s childhood influences growing up in India without ever belaboring them and features some atmospheric color that dovetails nicely with May’s voice. It’s the longest song on Creatures of the Night and comes at an excellent place in the album’s running order. “Sing for Me” is memorable for a variety of reasons, but it’s note perfect length and movement are one while Rhett May seems to bring more of his personal biography than ever into play; the further truth is that, even if this isn’t a strictly autobiographical number, May sings as if the lyrics are ripped straight from the pages of his life. Bass and drums dominate the song “Symphony of Sorrow” and stand out from the rest of the pack while the finale “When We Make Love” shows off more of his versatility with an unique take on the jazz genre. This is a powerful and often surprisingly moving album despite its raucous moments and May is cementing his standing as one of the best talents working in the indie scene today.
9 out of 10 stars