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The Midnight Shepherds - Ann: Live From Steve's House (Inner Light Records)

9 February 2024

As a writer, I spend too much of my time listening to artists and bands trying so hard to stay relevant, and who think that you do so by creating new genres and fusing together musical forms that have little business hanging out together. In their rush to be the future, they fail to understand the past. In their desire for revolution, they underestimate the power of evolution.

You can make a good argument for the major music genres, having found their perfect form long ago. Rock, soul, funk, country, folk and particularly blues, have all known what they are about for a long time and are more than happy in their musical skin. All you can, and indeed should, do is accept that and slowly move forward with them, polishing things here, being slightly inventive there, but essentially walking in the shoes of those who made such genres so recognisable and so iconic.

Well, that’s what The Midnight Shepherds do on this scintillating and stylish new single, “Ann.” A blistering slice of electric blues, built from the requisite dynamics of slow grooves and squalling but seductive guitar work. The best songs need plenty of time to warm up, work out, drift off into the night, and room to develop a sense of elegance, sonic eloquence, ease, and effortlessness. Having done so, “Ann’s” nearly nine minutes fly by in a flash.

You’ll recognise the form, the genre, and the nature of the song. There is certainly a freshness to the playing, but it is also very familiar. You may have heard something like it before, but you’ll never have heard anything quite this good. And that, in a nutshell, is the whole point.