Album review: Art Theefe’s ‘Dig Deep’ – “a really enjoyable and compelling listen”

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I haven’t listened to an album like this in a while.

It’s great that so many musicians are experimenting with various technologies to explore new sounds – genres are blending and crossing over more and more these days. So, it was interesting to listen to Oxford-based band Art Theefe’s latest album ‘Dig Deep’ (release date: October 19), which has seemingly gone in the opposite direction.

As a whole Dig Deep could easily be the soundtrack to a contemporary spaghetti western – there’s a Malcolm Mclaren solace feel to it, as well as an ominous Luis Bacalov vibe. It feels very much like an enduring journey to self-discovery, and entirely engrossing.

Art Theefe, a three-piece (made up of Matt Sage, – lead singer and guitarist – Josh Rigal, – bass – and Joel Bassuk, – drums) resonates with me as classic rock ensemble with Dig Deep as their homage to this genre, bringing it back to basics, in the least basic way. It’s music in a very pure form, and I’m into it.

Their underlying rock sound is creatively explored throughout the album with songs such as ‘Steely Jam’, – an unapologetic three minute instrumental – that transcends into something demonic in ‘Cold Dark Night’. One thing I found consistent was a notable essence of Tom Waits and Black Sabbath – the tones can be harsh at times, but ultimately soothing.

For me ‘Afterglow’ is instrumentally the most enigmatic track of the album. The group work in complete synergy, the undertones of the bass echoing through the track are exceptional. Playing with the tempo Afterglow gradually transforms from start to finish – it just keeps advancing forward, which shows an energy that some of the songs don’t. It’s refreshing, and this variation highlights the craftsmanship of this album.

A further thing to note is Sage’s voice. It is incredibly rustic for the most part but undeniably dynamic, and harmonises with Art Theefe’s classic rock sound, whilst also polishing the tracks off with a contemporary finish – this works well and shows how the trio have revamped the classic rock genre, stripped it back, and reworked it with a modern spin. This is most evident in ‘Golden Switch’, which adds to this by incorporating a striking guitar riff.

After listening to – probably my favourite track – ‘I Have Named You The Queen’, I have to admit there is something very embellishing about lying on your floor and listening to the lyrics, “But you are the queen” swirl around you. It’s the difference I notice when music comes out at you, or to you – the difference between being talked at, and spoken to. Art Theefe very much speaks to you throughout Dig Deep – the album’s soul-searching motif is very apparent, and their journey to self-resolution makes for a thouroughly enjoyable and compelling listen.

For further information about Art Theefe and their latest album visit www.art-theefe.com

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