“Catching Fire” is the new 2019 Americana soul, blues, jazz, funk inflected release from Northern Colorado trio The Symbols, with husband and wife duo Jasco (guitar and producer) and Mer Sal (bass and lead vocals) standing front and center. I’ve been waiting for this record since I first privately suggested to Mer Sal some seven or eight years ago that she hadn’t quite found the music that fit her then unaccomplished voice. She has now. “Catching Fire” is the record that sets Mer Sal up among the premier female blue-eyed soul singers in Colorado today.
Jasco and I have known each other since the early 90s when he was in Blind Dog Smokin’ and we played shows together. I’ve always been impressed with Jason’s highly unique voicings and guitar tones. On this album, Jasco’s sparse and inventive lead lines and personally unique guitar tones perfectly complement Mer Sal’s brightly sparkling vocals.
There is exceptional stylistic diversity on this album. “Let’s Be Love” immediately sets the tone with Mer Sal singing “leave your judgement at the door … let’s be love,” hinting at her blues and soul influences. “Shake It,” featuring Alvino Bennett (Stevie Wonder, Kenny Loggins, Robin Trower) as producer and drummer, is an insanely sparse pocket dance floor party with Mer Sal flashing her skills as bassist and singing simply about shaking butt on the dance floor. “Walk Beside Me” lays out a beautiful southern blues-jazz groove that slides into the scat filled mid-century “Soon,” both of which give up ghosts of the great Satchmo (check out the intro guitar line in “Walk Beside Me” that damned near sounds like a muted trumpet).
Produced and recorded by Jasco at his Fort Collins studio The Recordium,”Catching Fire” sets the standard against which all other female fronted Americana blues oriented recordings will be measured in the coming year in Colorado.