Katy Guillen & The Girls are a force to be reckoned with. Their monster second album Heavy Days, is out today on the Vizztone label, partnered with their own label, KG&G Records.
There are groups that perform and record together because that is how they earn their coin, and they more or less tolerate each other. On the flip side, there are artists that really enjoy each other’s company and feed off each other when they work together. For Katy Guillen, Claire Adams, and Stephanie Williams, it is the later. Katy has said, “I feel like they push me to perform my best, in a way no one else has ever done, and it’s because we all know we want it to sound the best it possibly can.” Naturally, when people actually enjoy working and creating together, the results are so much more productive and satisfying.
The trio has been putting a fine edge on their performances while out touring and selling out venues far and wide. Their exposure got a huge boost with their finalist finish at the 2014 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, and they have been tearing it up since. “Heavy” is a very apt description of their sound these days. Heavy, but not stodgy; there is lots of breath and movement here.
Heavy Days is their second album, and it is phat, and soulful. Paired with their killer onstage presence, this music is the heart that drives the girls on. The album showcases 10 amazing tracks that have a running time of 42 minutes. Production is solid, the sound quality is excellent, and the mix is tantalizing. These songs are aurally spacious, but the band is very tight together, and the result is heavy, but never muddy. It’s almost as if Blondie meets The Clash meets The Pretenders. Plus, there is the extra thrill of a trio format which really allows each player to be heard in a less cluttered setting. Even with only three players, the sound is amazingly full.
From start to finish Heavy Days will have listeners captivated and engaged. We enjoyed the entire experience, but as always, we had our favorites. “Driving to Wake Up” has a steady, foot tapping beat and a great hook that will have drivers nodding their heads along almost instantly. “Heavy Days” has another catchy riff, and considerable depth. Guillen’s guitar work here is tidy, with exceptional tone, and in fact, the entire band is in fine form here. “Waking Up from You” had a decidedly early ’90s feel to it, and is somewhat more mellow than most of the tracks here.
We also enjoyed “Don’t Need Anymore,” with its driving guitar line and thumping rhythm section, and “Humbucker” is just a blast, with the band clearly having a great time. Again, wonderfully tight playing, with each instrument’s lines just perfect for the song. Perhaps the best cut on this album is “Cold Was the Night.” Guest Mike “Shinetop” Sedovic of the Danielle Nicole Band lays done a sweet organ flavor here, and Guillen’s guitar is expressive as hell.
Throughout the album, along with Guillen’s expressive guitar lines, Claire Adams lays down melodic bass lines with Tal Wilkenfeld finesse and sensibility, while Stephanie Williams, with deft hands, does so much more than just keep time and move the beat on drums.
Bring Heavy Days home and spend some time with it. For those who do, this album will be a real coup. This is music that makes your musical soul dance!
Heavy Days – Katy Guillen & The Girls
Running time: 42 minutes