Acoustic sessions by Sky Valley Mistress

Release date: March 26, 2021
Label: New Heavy Sounds

Our good friends at New Heavy Sounds are celebrating their 10th birthday this year and to mark it they are releasing a bunch of limited edition CD EP’s, from bands on their wonderful roster and beyond. First out is this set from Blackburn’s desert rock upstarts, Sky Valley Mistress, with the four-track Acoustic Sessions.

Now, all these songs appeared on last year’s debut, Faithless Rituals, but don’t let that deter you from seeking this release out, as these versions are markedly different from the originals. You might have expected a young band of exciting and excitable rockers such as this to have merely strapped on some acoustic guitars and thrashed through these four numbers like a drunken, campfire knees up, but there you would be quite wrong. With the aid of some very tasteful keys, Sky Valley Mistress have turned these tunes onto slinky and sophisticated epics. Smoke, neon and darkness seeping into the original backdrops of blinding sun, beer and scorched earth.

The stripped-back style has the benefit of showcasing the formidable pipes of lead singer Kayley Davies, who smoulders and wails like a true blues diva, no more so than on the piano-led ‘It Won’t Stop’. The rhythms of the song, with its lilting verses and sudden surges at the bridge really help Davies to show the full range of her skills…and when the chorus returns at the end the fireworks really start.

‘You Got Nothin’ and ‘Skulls & Pistons’, both singles on the debut album, are featured here and were probably selected as two of the strongest, catchiest numbers in their set rather than for their suitability to be given the acoustic treatment, but none-the-less are both fine, soulful re-workings which lose only a little of their power without the windmilling frenzy of the original performances.

Closing number ‘She Is So’ opens with the pleasing subterranean pulse of latter day Mark Lanegan, and whilst the number then relies more on guitars, it does show the band can match their grungy peers when it comes to atmosphere. Lyrically the femme fatale of ‘She Is So’ works very well in the gothic Americana trappings she is now draped in and again shows that this band display a subtlety and craft beyond their tender years.

A classier and more mature release than you would expect from only a band’s second release…and it still rocks. Of course it does, it’s on New Heavy Sounds!

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