Speak Easy – The Hot and Wet Swing Set

Our man up the hill, Gwain Barker reviews the new Hot and Wet Swing Set album “Speak Easy”..

IMG_0267The Hot and Wet Swing Set have been strutting their slinky stuff around the far north for a few years now, mostly in cabaret with a wild cast of players, strippers, acrobats, dancers and freaks. Their songs and music are often integral to the shows so that on this, their first audio recording, we can get to take them home for some intimate private time.

Vocalist & front person extraordinaire Zelda Grimshaw has written the songs. Cabaret essentials -rude humor, political satire, cheery cynicism, sexual innuendo, clever wordplay & underdog anger are all present here. Ms.Grimshaw’s voice, sweet, full and languid, drops lyrical bombs even as she strokes your cheek. She woos you for the uppercut.

FNQ musical stalwarts David Breeze & Dave Hart with young batteur Jen Fengler, plus rhythm guitar from Ms Grimshaw, create the perfect cabaret sound. It’s jazzy & European, smokey tin pan alley -lush AND spacious. The band plays easy, soothing as Sunday sunshine but tight and sharp in the parts that count. They’ve got a languid precision that allows the stories in the songs to unfold and envelop you. Mr Breeze’s clean playing & tone makes his tasty guitar chords & solos slide like warm honey down a smooth thigh. Love the happy smiling porn of the solo in Captain Wood and the poignancy in his solo on Ballard of Gina just resonates with heart-ache & injustice.

Mr Hart’s double bass is the swinging hips to Ms. Fengler’s sassy rhythm legs -providing a no-nonsense and rock steady core to the songs. And for some delectable icing on the cake, horn maven Ruedi Homberger spices things up with well placed soprano sax & clarinet. Check out his sly humor on Mr.Rabbit and the sense of sage sangfroid on Ca Va.

This is a fun album but amongst the humour, simmering outrage is never far. The sweltering far west shuffle of the Ballad of Gina piles on the indignity we suffer at the hands of the public rich. Mr. Rabbit, a yearning song of love lays bare the sexual tension implicit in our P.M. while Eat The Rich offers a most logical solution to the global economic imbalance Targets are acquired and then dispatched with high style. This smart ‘n’ smooth collection of cracking songs are spiced by the angry cheek that lies at the heart of real cabaret These are show-tunes for mendacious times.

The Hot And Wet Swing Set Speak Easy CDs are now on sale at Kick Arts, 96 Abbott St Cairns. Also available at Rare Earth in Kuranda, and The Old Bakery Mt Malloy .