Album reviews

Wild Card – ‘Cabin 19 Fever’

Wild Card – Cabin 19 Fever

(Top End Records TER0006CD. Album review by Bruce Lindsay)

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As a long-term unit, Wild Card’s heart is the trio of writer, arranger and guitarist Clément Régert, keyboard player Andrew Noble and drummer Sophie Alloway, a line-up that’s been together since 2012’s Everything Changes. On previous albums the group has added guest artists to the mix, including Graeme Flowers, Denys Baptiste, Natalie Williams and rapper B’loon. Cabin 19 Fever, the band’s sixth album, carries on that tradition, featuring fourteen guests across its ten tracks, some returning, some new, all extremely welcome.

Wild Card recorded most of Cabin 19 Fever during the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, adding three more tracks – ‘Olympus,’ ‘Tweenies’ and ‘Georgy Porgy’ – at Eastcote Studios in February 2022. Trumpeter Graeme Flowers is back, on six tracks, trombonist Rosie Turton returns for ‘Georgy Porgy’ and there are first appearances from percussionist Snowboy and saxophonist Binker Golding among others. The smallest ensemble is the quartet of ‘Aleppo Express,’ which features Marcus Strickland’s hauntingly melancholy soprano saxophone and Régert’s crystal-clear guitar. The largest are the septets, which feature on five numbers. In between are three quintet tracks, the pick of which is ‘Definitely Maybe’ – to be clear, it’s by Régert and bears no relation to the Oasis album of the same name. Golding and Grammy-winningtrumpeter Maurice ‘Mobetta’ Brown are the guest players and the tune imaginatively mixes hip-hop, funk, jazz and rock guitar influences.

Imaani makes emphatic appearances on two of the septet numbers: Peter Gabriel’s ‘Mercy Street’ and David Paich’s ‘Georgy Porgy’ (originally recorded by Toto). These are the only two vocal tracks on the album as well as being the only ones not written by Régert. Imaani’s soulful vocals provide some of the album’s standout moments, especially on ‘Mercy Street’: it’s a stronger song that Paich’s and also offers fine solos and ensemble playing from Flowers, Dennis Rollins on trombone and Jim Knight on alto, driving the song at a faster tempo than Gabriel’s original.

The remaining three septet tracks feature Golding, Flowers, Snow Boy and trombonist Trevor Mires. For its combination of Alloway and Snow Boy’s powerhouse percussion, Noble’s organ solo and the sheer joy of the horn section and Régert’s rhythm playing, ‘Tweenies’ is a delight from first to last. For me, it’s the album highlight, but it’s a close-run thing. Cabin 19 Fever is full of delights, another strong addition to the Wild Card discography.

LINK: Wild Card website to order Cabin 19 Fever

Categories: Album reviews, Reviews

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