Review

MaxX & Love introduce themselves with blues opera on debut album These Blues Might Get You Too

The blues is a boundless and wondrous thing. And when you write the blues, you pour yourself into it, whether you like it or not.

That’s exactly what MaxX and Love have done with their debut album These Blues Might Get You Too. It’s a chronicle of life, and the experiences and moments that connect into a sort of blues odyssey.

Hailing from Joburg, the eccentric duo is well-known for their captivating live performances and enigmatic stage presence.

They featured as our #SpotlightOn artists back in October 2023, and since then they’ve appeared as if from thin air onto the stages of mainstream festivals like Splashy Fen or those of boutique festivals like Zeegunst, their performances trance-like at times.

The first time I laid eyes on them I was reminded of the troubadours and minstrels who brought their show from town-to-town, preaching on the temptations of love and greed, warning against the mundane and reminding that even in suffering, there is life. Their debut offering tries to transpose all this grit and charisma into a listening experience, and the result is more of a blues opera than a blues album.

The 12-track offering is a strong introduction to their sound, laden with inspiration from roots Americana blues and touched-up with just enough African soul and gospel to remind you that these aren’t two imports. They’re local boys.

The production of the album focuses on Love’s vocals and MaxX’s guitar, which share a spotlight as primary voices in the stories the album weaves together. It’s a delicate balance, even if at times there’s a little bit of depth missing.

It’s a difficulty that a lot of duos encounter, trying to enlarge their sound from the stage to the studio, but MaxX and Love make it work with the addition of solid production elements, like choral backing vocals, crossroad fiddles and blues-bar keys.

“The Softest Heart” and “Death of a Moment” are both incredibly slow burners, and perhaps the best example of what MaxX & Love do best. And yet, the strongest element of the album remains its loyalty to its genre, and to the act of storytelling.

There is no catharsis or resolution expected. No moment of clear and bright sunshine at the end of the storm. It just simply is. And it’s a solid introduction to two new storytellers who we hope will have more to say in due time.