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Artist: Verra Cruz
Label: VC Records
Length: 11 tracks / 39 minutes 
It’s been striking over the last couple of years how much British teenagers are relishing rock from the early ‘seventies. I can’t quite work out whether it is for the musical values – energy and visceral feeling, without losing sight of melody – or because of its pioneering spirit that knew few boundaries, which is an antidote to much of the global ‘product’ we are currently being fed with.
Verra Cruz’s music takes its template from a few years further back, to bands like those from the British blues boom. Much of it is rough around the edges, organic, and eschews any sense of being polished and packaged. “Not in the Fire” has a riff-based Cream feel; and the superb “Freedom” goes further and is inspired directly by Hendrix, in a similar way to some of Robin Trower’s best work. “Weapon” is influenced more directly by early American blues, with (like “Blind Man”) just 5 lines of vocals, the song extended by mood, rather than words. It has particularly strong overtones of Jo Jo Gunne’s “Run Run Run”.
Just as it seems that the disc might be a festival of fuzz pedal, along come a couple of tracks where the vocals are clear, strings make an entrance, and the pace relents – although not the spirit. “Friend to You” is like Free doing an intimate worship song. There is more Free-like sound with the excellent, brooding “Soul on Fire,” which is so restrained at the beginning that you just know it is waiting to explode – which it does a couple of minutes in. 
These songs are pitched just right: often born from scripture, but fully accessible to the ordinary secular listener. “She Don’t Want Him,” for example, so aches with the pain of rejection that it has to come from the experience of loving someone who wants something different. “How Long for this World” suggests the Kingdom of God, but is oblique enough to get you coming back to check out the parallels; while “Grace” takes the same approach as U2 on their eponymous song, with the play on the girl’s name personifying the characteristic. 
There is very little that is extraneous here. The only track I would ditch is “Blind Man” – a frenetic haze of blues-punk, with Marc James’ vocals almost struggling to be heard over the rifferama.
Good as their debut was, this is a definite step forward. The band has found its own niche, pouring everything into what it does. For a trio they make a lot of noise, but it’s a great noise.
Derek Walker


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