Rob Heron and the Tea Pad Orchestra are a band who are every bit as outlandish and off-the-wall as their name might suggest. This year saw the release of their fourth studio album Soul of my City and it’s an album that is as refreshing and unique as its makers.
There are a number of refreshing aspects to the work of the group but one of our personal favourites stems from their complete disregard for being pigeon-holed or categorised. On their website they clearly state that they ‘don’t care what genre you choose to put them in – western swing, country blues, ragtime hokum or whatever else’. That might sound like a bold collection of sounds but honestly as things progress you realise that these elements are merely the tip of the iceberg. Their abstract nature is one that is vital to their unique and ever-evolving style. In just twelve songs the band seem to draw influence from time and space itself as they echo homages to artists all around the world from traces of Elvis Presley emerging to the deep and guttural work that Tom Waits would be proud of. Then to cap it all off there is a heady mixture of Eastern European and French fusion folk music dashed into the mix that makes for an unrelenting and immeasurably fun album that will change your mood. Soul of my City is a joyous, upbeat and woefully infectious album that presents us with a stunning collection of songs.
Fuelling their ever-changing sound is a marvellous chorus of upbeat guitar melodies, thrumbling double bass lines, harmonicas and jazz-gospel piano tunes that turn your every expectation on its head. No matter how deft and polished their work is, there is something that is rough and ready in their music that helps to let off their affectionate nods to their counterparts around the globe. The main thing about Soul of my City however is that is a restless and charismatic album that is energising and immeasurably fun. Rob Heron and the Tea Pad Orchestra might be the only band to ever cross us where the group seem to have their own mission statement and with the fact that theirs is that they don’t care what you call them, as long as you accept that everything they do is give 110% and that this is their unbridled passion, then they are happy; there is something comforting in this as you come to know that not only are you listening to an album that you want to hear, but that they want to hear as well. Their passion for their work can be heard in every song as they send you spiralling through time to the past and the future to absorb their contemporary and unique sound. Their fusions are like nothing you have ever quite experienced before.
A perfect album to end a dull and dreary February with, Soul of my City is a vibrant and colourful collection of songs that bursts its positivity and creativity to the skies. It’s almost impossible to see it through without giving way to the swinging brass tunes or swinging guitar melodies and finding an extra spring in your step.
Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra · UK Tour · February-March 2019
Fri 1 Newcastle-upon-Tyne The Cluny album launch show
Wed 13 Liverpool Liverpool Philharmonic, Music Room
Thu 14 Stroud The Prince Albert
Fri 15 Winchester The Railway Inn
Sat 16 Bristol Hy-Brasil Music Club
Sun 17 Preston The Ferret
Wed 20 Farnham Farnham Maltings
Thu 21 Nottingham The Maze
Fri 22 London Water Rats
Sat 23 Brighton The Hope & Ruin
Sun 24 Ramsgate Ramsgate Music Hall
Wed 27 Edinburgh Voodoo Rooms
Thu 28 Aviemore Old Bridge Inn
Fri 1 Glasgow Stereo
Sat 2 Sheffield The Greystones
Sun 3 Leeds Oporto
Review by Joe Knipe