Coral Lee’s Pepper Tea : Little Red Rider

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Coral Lee’s Pepper Tea : Little Red Rider


Since 2008, Coral Farrow’s bluesy voice and jazz/folk-inspired tunes have been gracing the Melbourne live circuit.

Since 2008, Coral Farrow’s bluesy voice and jazz/folk-inspired tunes have been gracing the Melbourne live circuit. She is finally releasing her first album and it’s a feast of gloriously contrasting, dynamic songs that blend blues, jazz, and roots into one scintillating, unique sound.

Opening with the title track, Little Red Rider, the album appears to be an upbeat, jazz-styled affair. Notably, trumpets accentuate the old-time feel, while the lyrics seemingly refer to the cover image of a girl on an oh-so-fashionable old-fashioned bicycle in a typical Melbourne inner-suburb alley. However, with the second track, The Black Sea, the mood changes and Farrow is proven to be a very diverse and talented artist.

With a distinctly Australian accent, Farrow’s vocals do sound Missy Higgins-like in this slow, soulful tune. However, any similarities are forgotten with the third song on the album, Little Nightbird. The return of the trumpet and a definite blues feel give this song a lovely languid attitude, just like traditional blues of the balmy south.

Cozzy Get Your Cozy On is almost Ella Fitzgerald in style. It’s cheeky, very traditional musically except with a laid back, stripped down Australian-ness that’s refreshing and unique; particularly considering the lyrics reference family trips to the beach.

Alternatively, Michigan Water is a pared back blues tune that, save for the female vocalist, is reminiscent of C.W. Stoneking. It is, in fact, a cover of a blues song from the 1920s–’30s, Stoneking’s preferred blues style. Farrow lists her influences as Robert Johnson, Howlin’ Wolf, Bonnie Raitt, Ruth Brown, Bessie Smith, Hank Williams, Gillian Welsh, Booker T And The MG’s, James Brown and “a large number of local acts from Melbourne”, so Stoneking may even be part of that self-same list.

The final track, Fire Inside Of Me, is more country than blues, and its lyrics suggest the same. About leaving a small-town home to follow the “fire inside of me”, it’s poignant, raw and again features that unmistakable, pervading Australian-ness.

Ultimately, this is a blues album with a fresh, young and unique approach to the genre that is a delight. (Oh, and there’s a fiddle-laden bonus track! ) I can only imagine that performed live, it would be even more dynamic and intimate.