Review: Big Dez "Chicken in the Car and the Car Can't Go"

Foto: Wakx Thiery

BMárcio Grings English version Candice Soldatelli

Getting old is not for the weak. Even more for an acrimonious guy like me. I get tired of many things, because it is easy to get this deja vu feeling beforehand, as the French say in their language, that feeling of “I have seen this before”. l As I went for Gallicism to talk about suffering in anticipation instead of enjoying the small pleasures in life, it happens that I found out “Chicken in the Car and the Car Can’t Go”, the new album of the Parisian band Big Dez.   

First of all, one of the idiosyncrasies of blues is this very ethereal power of being born in places with the least hopes of materialization. Big Dez was founded in 1996, a project by guitarist Phil Fernandez, who guided the band to their debut album in 2003, “Sail On Blues”. Later came “Night After Night” (2004), “You Can Smile” (2008), “Lazy Star” (2010), “Wet Paint” (2012) and “Last Train” (2018). 

After 25 years on the road, some change of band member and several shows in major blues festivals on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean – Phil Fernandez has been to Brazil when he was in the line-up of Mississippi Delta Blues Festival (2019), Southern Brazil -, they are still on the same track. The current members are Fernandez, founder member of the band (guitar and vocals), Paco “Lefty hand” (guitar and backing-vocals), Lamine Guerfi (bass and backing-vocals), Léa Worms (keyboard and backing-vocals), Marc Schaeller (harmonic and backing vocals) and Guillaume Destarac (drums and backing vocals), the sextet that has just finished the 7th album of Big Dez.   

Divulgação BD

“Chicken in the Car and Car Can’t Go” was recorded in Lainville studio, in Vexin, Northern France (at guitarist Paco’s house) and mixed in Chicago by Jim Godsey, sound engineer who worked for artists such as Johnny Winter e Wishbone Ash. There are no covers and reinterpretations, just original songs, all written by Fernandez, which leads with no doubt to a connection between blues and rock and roll.

I love it when the guitar leaves the tribune and acts as the assistant of the acoustic guitar. Then we have “Fall in Love Again” (the best song of all) which let me mortified, a ballad with credentials to be a hit on your blues/rock playlist. Without forcing it to hard, “Willing and Abble” connects to the swing of American funk and black music, with vocals in falsetto and absolutely no worry in reaching the end of the theme. We can’t do anything but just dance to it. Some cuts have roots in the Chicago blues of the 1970/80’s, as in the title track, “Up and Down the Road” and “Got to Find My Baby”, where Marc Schaeller’s harmonica stands out, always lurking, as a good harmonica player has to be – the so called “less is more” of blues. 

Foto: Wakx Thiery

“Oh Baby Doll” and especially “Set Him Free” get closer to the rockabilly world and the 1950’s music, as well as “300 Miles for a Tchat” (another great song from this album), which show vocal layers that during the chorus remind us of the doo-wop groups. The instrumental “Texas Barber Q” closes the party with a great vibe in a dancing floor, the land where the Big Dez reveal all their virtues (do not forget to pay attention to Léa Worms at the piano), being mature musicians, who dislike far-fetched movements, but mainly for connecting us to blues true spirit of fun.

For one who started this review drowned in bitterness, I may say that I recommend listening to “Chicken in the Car and the Car Can’t Go”, the new album by French band Big Dez, which is going to be officially released on November 12th (purchase HERE), because this is a record that brings blues back to show us its never-ending flow of rebirth in the world, just as a wild flower that unlikely keeps on blooming from that tiny crack in the asphalt concrete. 

Listen to some parts of the album here.