“I don’t drink as my ought to, lately that just ain’t my style, hard times don’t hurt like they used to” sings Roger Earl on “Song For The Life”. Blimey. I never thought I’d see the day when Foghat grew up.
That’s just past halfway, here, but there’s that sort of mid-paced melody all the way through “Sonic Mojo”, – their first album for seven years – and it suits them.
It has to be said, though, that it all kicks off with “She’s A Little Bit Of Everything” – the low-slung groove, the feeling that you’re in some back roads honkytonk – ahh welcome back Foghat. That it was written with Kim Simmonds, late, great and of Savoy Brown, also tells a story. A lot of these are covers (this one isn’t just a co-write) and a lot are mid-paced blues as much as anything else.
There’s anger too. I don’t know who “I Don’t Appreciate You” is about, but I humbly suggest they watch their back. It sounds like this is a gang, and if you take one on, you take them all.
Interestingly, Spotify played me Robin Trower after this album finished, because “Mean Woman Blues” has a real of him in the guitar playing.
Indeed, it’s striking how bluesy this album is. “Drivin’ On” is another from that cloth, and it’s a cracker of a thing, Willie Dixon’s “Let Me Love You Baby” is as classic a 12-bar thing as can be, and if “How Many More Years” is darker, melancholy, even, then its exquisitely done.
And, “Wish I’d Been There” proves that even heroes have heroes. It’s glorious – a lament to never seeing Hank Williams over some real mournful country. I am with you mate, I’ll never see Rory Gallagher of Phil Lynott.
If you had to use one word to describe “…Mojo”, you might be good at saying “reflective” and “Time Slips Away” is just that, even the more boogie-orientated “Black Days And Blue Nights” has a note of caution: “the slide has lost its mojo, and the strings have turned to rust” it goes and then decides: “somehow despite yourself you found rock n roll.”
If there’s self-doubt everywhere, it’s on BB King’s “Dynamite” too. A good time rocker, there’s a gorgeous woman, but on this record, there’s always confusion: “I don’t understand what she’s putting down” it goes.
It all ends with one of the best songs ever made. Thus, it’s tough to have anything new to say about “Promised Land”, but if they’re smoking into New Orleans here, they’re doing it with country in the heart.
“Sonic Mojo” feels like a celebration – of Foghat, of music, and its sheer joy. And you have to say (and welcome the clanging cliché) that they have got their mojo well and truly back.