North West blues rockers Federal Charm return with their eagerly anticipated third album Passenger.
Passenger was recorded, produced and mixed at Willow Terrace Studios in Manchester. Federal Charm co-produced the album with John Simms (Hidden Colour Audio) who also engineers for fellow Stockport band, Blossoms.
Following the departure of both drummer Danny Rigg and lead vocalist Nick Bowden shortly after the group’s run on the 2016 Planet Rock Roadstars tour, it looked like it was curtains for Federal Charm. However, the band’s remaining original members lead guitarist Paul Bowe and bass player LD Morawski weren’t ready to throw in the towel just yet.
Following the recruitment of new frontman Tom Guyer, along with Josh Zahler on drums, Federal Charm have returned like a phoenix rising from the flames.
The Manchester-based quartet sets out their stall early on with “Swing Sinner” and boy do they mean business. With its short sharp guitar riffs, heavy groove yet funky rhythm and catchy hooks the song will inevitably be a crowd pleaser.
The Federal Charm rock and roll juggernaut continues with “Choke”. Much like the opening number, this blistering composition illustrates that Federal Charm are back with a bang with a sonically larger and harder rocking imprint than we’ve heard from the group’s original incarnation.
“Death Rattle” on the other hand is maybe a little bit more atmospheric, and maybe not quite as fierce as the opening pair of tracks but not in a bad way. The track features some incredible fretwork from Paul Bowe, along with some tight yet prominent drum patterns from new boy Josh Zahler.
Midway through the album, we reach “Nowhere Is Home”, which in places has a more familiar sound to it in line with the band’s earlier material. On the other hand, “Get Through” is incredibly infectious, and features a passionate vocal delivery from Tom Guyer.
“Concrete Creature” is one of the many stand out tracks on the record. The song starts with an acoustic guitar intro, which is very much the calm before the storm, but as the number progresses it builds into somewhat of a monster. The record comes to its conclusion with grungey tones of “Speak Out”, which comes complete with a pulsating rhythm and sludgy groove.
With Federal Charm’s latest offering you can really hear the evolution of the group’s sound. The band’s musical growth has most certainly been catalysed by the band’s new recruits into a more well rounded, edgier and heavier offering.
Without a doubt, Passenger is the strongest Federal Charm album to date. Just like the old saying goes, for this British four-piece, ‘third time’s a charm’.
Photo: Lizzie Henshaw