Tuesday 10th January 2012

Often cited as a band deeply influenced by the blues, Chicago’s Bailiff, like many of its contemporaries, first came to black roots music via British blues rock, namely Led Zeppelin.

Bailiff is built around the duo of Josh Siegel (vocal, guitars, keys) and drummer/backing vocalist Ren Mathew. Siegel and Mathew have worked with a succession of bass players with Adam Schneider contributing low end on the recent album, Red Balloon.

Red Balloon starts with the hypnotic and mostly instrumental “Crickets” and segues into “In the Reverie,” a sexy, rhythmic number with a strong vocal hook. “Everyday Fire” has a distinctly African vibe with its tribal percussion and ghostly harmonies.

The next third of Red Balloon is equally strong: “Eventually” showcases Siegel’s assured vocals; “Emptied Out” recalls The Black Keys at their bluest, and the title track “Red Balloon” is the catchiest thing on the record, the lyric “Where were you when we flew like a red balloon” melting hearts and triggering childhood memories.

The final four tracks on the album crash and bang in fine style: “Curtains” boasts chicken scratch guitar fuzzed-out bass; “When I Leave You Will Stay” has more than a bit of Led Zep’s majestic mojo; “Overheard” is a stadium-sized anthem; “Little By Little” closes Red Balloon out on a beautifully bittersweet note.

Bailiff shares the main stage with The Drive-By Truckers, Dawes, Joe Pug and Van Ghost at the fourth annual Chicago Bluegrass and Blues Festival, Saturday 23 January at The Congress Theatre.


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