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LICK AND A PROMISE Come Together In The Morning Frontier Productions 4020796 432317 (2011)

Lick And A Promise

OK, they may be German, they make take their name from the Aersomith line 'He gave the ladies a lick and a promise' and they may have that raggedy Stones feel (circa Sticky Fingers' and 'Exile on Mainstreet'), cut through with the harmonies of The Proclaimers and tinges of Zeppelin, but Lick And A Promise still do enough to be taken seriously as a band in their own right. On a superbly paced, acoustic based and thoroughly enjoyable album, the band work towards a satisfying close with the Black Crows and southern rock influenced 'Hard To Say Goodbye' and a Robert Plant/Zeppelin steal on the beautifully crafted 'Places Of The Soul'.

'Come Together In The Morning' is such a superbly conceptualised album that the back porch acoustic outro provides the perfect finish.

The dozen tracks have enough harmony led spirit to transform their undeniable retro roots into something new and vital. And after all, what contemporary music with real substance doesn't have its antecedents in the past? The thing that makes Lick And A Promise different is their core sparkling harmonies, the duo based song-writing approach of vocalist Jochen W Thoma and guitarist Manuel Elsesser and the fact they approach their songs from an essential acoustic base, no matter where they end up. Then there's a family connection that sees Jochen's brother Volker on bass and organ and dad Willi on trumpet and trombone, further reasons perhaps for the tightly wrapped blend of songs that emphasise harmonies, melody and sparkling instrumentation.

In many respects it's the attention to the vocals that gives the album something of a west coast feel, albeit with some undeniable Stones influences such as the Keith Richard riffs on the title track and the Jagger style phrasing of 'Sway Again', a song that even manages to incorporate a Stones song title into the ranks. But it is also the harmonies that make this album a cut above the rest.

'Come Together In The Morning' combines all the subtle push and pulls of understated rock that given a fair hearing will hold crossover appeal to the mainstream rock market. The meticulous attention to detail, the intuitive production and the excellent harmony singing really impresses, particularly on 'Hey Hey Hello' where Jochen sings the lead line before Manuel joins him on alternate double lines to bring an extra dimension to the song. And when they do switch to full electric mode on 'The Highway' they add yet more colours with the addition of Willi Thoma's layered trumpet.

The album unhurriedly builds up a head of steam - sometimes in the most understated way - as on the acoustic train-time rhythms of 'Pale White' and the slow building rock ballad 'Loser And A Fool', which has the same harmony led acoustic sweep of the Bon Jovi/Sambora 'Dead or Alive' duet. And as if to show their full potential they hit a full blown rock groove full of slide guitar led intensity on 'Sometime'.

'Come Together In The Morning' is an impressive debut, full of strong songs, rich harmony singing with a potential commercial appeal that will surely gain Lick & A Promise a deal. If nothing else there are enough classic rock ghosts in the machine to tap into rock's collective consciousness and recondition the music of yester year into something new and interesting.


Review by Pete Feenstra


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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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