Svelte – Cat’s Paw (Svelte/Universal) CD Review

As might be expected from a group featuring two former members of the much-loved Supergroove (Tim Stewart and Ben Sciascia), the words ‘humour’ and ‘fun’ are not foreign concepts to Svelte. This is evident right from the get-go on the first track, and single, ‘Grind Your Bones.’

In the works for two long years, this 11-track debut is a bit of an oddball release, and difficult to tag. Stewart’s vocals have a gruff, soulful characteristic that brings an organic quality to the project, but at times the lyrics think they’re sharper than they are, and after a couple of spins, the songs don’t strike this reviewer as especially memorable.

The same can’t be said of the performances, or the production/engineering, which is uniformly excellent. Another former Supergroover, Karl Steven, acted as producer, and contributed his organs to the project – Hammond B3 and BVs, to be precise – and he’s done a great job. In fact, apart from bass levels that are just a bit too prominent, this is one of the punchiest, best-sound recordings I’ve heard from NZ.

The tracks range from the overtly funk-fed to power rock to almost pensive, atmospheric numbers, and perhaps that’s the problem; although there’s something resembling a group sound here, it needs some developing into one that’s unmistakably theirs, and their songs could do with a few nudges and lyrical tweaks to bring them up to a standard that makes you want to push the ‘play’ button repeatedly. GARY STEEL

Sound = 4

Music = 3

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