One of the many bands that helped get us through the long pandemic with their livestream performances was UK blues-rockers Catfish. While an earlier album and DVD, Exile – Live in Lockdown, allowed fans to hear and see the band in their full blues-rocking glory, capturing the four-piece band in the same room together for the first time in five months during an onstage concert appearance, many of Catfish’s other performances during the lockdown required a much more stripped-down approach.
That served as the inspiration for this latest release, the five-track EP Bound for Better Days, which finds the band offering acoustic takes on four of its own songs along with a beautifully intense cover of Elton John’s “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” that proves that singer and guitarist Matt Long is just as talented on the tender songs as on the rockers for which the band is so well-known.
The EP starts with a 9+ minute, western-tinged “Broken Man” that stretches from such quiet touches as the soft staccato piano notes from Matt’s father Paul Long after the first chorus and Kev Hickman’s percussion slaps a bit later to Matt’s powerful, building vocals and guitar heard throughout the song.
From there, they move to the slow, soft, piano-centered “When B.B. Sings the Blues” written and sung by Paul, one of the first songs that caught our ear from the band when we heard it on Paul Jones’ BBC radio blues show a few years back. The song of course pays homage to the late, great B.B. King with such lyrics as “From Mississippi to Las Vegas, you came a long way / from segregation to adoration, it’s been a long day/ From plantation to the King of the Blues, it’s the music of your soul that sings to me now” and was the title track of an EP recorded shortly after King’s passing that also included the band’s take on four of the blues great’s classics: “You Upset Me Baby”, “The Thrill Is Gone”, “Never Make A Move Too Soon” and “How Blue Can You Get?”
If the upbeat melody and lyrics of the bouncy “Better Days” that follows don’t speak to you, there’s a good chance you’re walking around with a hole in your soul, while the band also helps keep things in perspective with a “The Big Picture” that manages to be every bit as edgy as the electric version of the track despite being acoustic, including another terrific guitar solo from Matt.
While Bound for Better Days may not exactly be the most representative example of Catfish’s overall sound, it certainly does provide an entertaining glimpse of how the band sounded during much of these two past years when the pandemic suddenly forced them and other bands off the stage. Having followed the band closely through the pandemic, we can attest that there was plenty more good stuff to hear from them during that time, and have no doubt that, as the title of this EP suggests, there’s lots more to come as Catfish begins their return to the stage.
Here’s a video the band recorded of the acoustic version of “Broken Man”, with videos of acoustic performances of each of the other songs off the EP as well as one other also available on Catfish’s YouTube page. Check them out!