Kris Barras Band – Light It Up (Mascot)

‘What you see is what you get’ with Kris Barras. So says the bullish opener to this strident set. And it’s true. Those who have followed this endearing blues brother’s rapid rise from close quarters don’t need telling – honesty, passion and self-determination are at the heart of a tale of triumph in the face of adversity. And on Light It Up, it’s safe to say Barras has stuck to what he knows best, albeit with the benefit of some serious label support and a production that blows his previous work out of the water.

Now part of the Supersonic Blues Machine’s revolving door of crack artists – and with a Ramblin’ Man Fair headline stage appearance under his belt – it’s hardly a surprise that one of British blues’ most exciting emerging talents screams confidence on The Divine And Dirty’s feisty follow-up.

Barras, of course, is a sublime guitarist but Light It Up is all about that extra focus on the vocals. The former cage fighter can belt out a rock anthem with the best of them but here he frequently accepts that less is often more – holding back to showcase a clearer and more compelling tone. And Barras has gone one step further by adding the backing singers and layered vocal melodies that perfectly complement his unique musical palette.

(Ignite) Light It Up is a shimmering showcase of everything that’s so compelling about this remarkable record: the Rival Sons-esque intro., lashings of Hammond organ, fist-pumping chorus and soaring solo make for a magnificent insight into the potential and ambition of modern British blues. Ballad Rain is awash with emotion and the cowbell on What A Way To Go is killer.

Barras has worked his balls off to get this far. Light It Up could – and should – be the album that proves hard work really does pay off.