No Sinner are a small band powered by a super-sized voice. A soulful group with a sound that is set perpetually to stun, at the head comes the remarkable Colleen Rennison (for whom the band are named), whose voice will melt your heart and leave you a love-struck puddle at her feet. An artist who bears comparison to Billy Holiday, Tina Turner and Beth Hart; a singer whose heart and soul is on display every time she lets loose, Colleen has found the perfect companions in guitarist Eric Campbell and Animal-esque drummer Ian Browne (as well as the rotating bassists Bradley Ferguson and Parker Bossley), whose razor-sharp rock ’n’ roll chops are the perfect backing for her untameable spirit.
The title track to ‘boo hoo hoo’ says it all when Colleen sings “you know I love the smell of whiskey and I hate the taste of gin but I always feel at home in a place that’s soaked in sin,” over a pounding beat that appeals to your most primal instincts. It’s hard, sensuous rock ‘n’ roll complete with horns and a vocal performance that could melt the Polar ice cap. With such a start there was never any doubt that the album would be good, but ‘Love is a madness’ allows you to get an inkling of just how good with its rich bass, jazzy guitar flourishes and soulful feel. Colleen’s voice is toned down a notch here, a sultry murmur in your ear over warm whiskey and sputtering candles, and the band reign in their wilder instincts only to let loose once again on the urgent blues of ‘Runnin’ which recalls the unrestrained joy of the Blue Brothers’ live recordings. ‘If anything’ is a drop of pure soul, delivered with a power that makes you feel as if the missive was personally addressed to you and not just a.n.other song for Colleen to sing – it is this ability to personalise the music that makes her so very special indeed. At the album’s heart lies the storming ‘Work song’, originally written by Nat Adderly and reborn here as a blistering blues stomp complete with fret-board bothering guitar work and skull-crushing percussion.
The second half of the album kicks off with the dusty Americana of ‘that’d be the day’, an introspective trip into Billy Holiday territory before Eric unveils a guitar line that is pure Jeff Buckley for the soulful, elegant‘ rise up’ which boasts one of Colleen’s best vocal performances. The fuzz returns with the massive riff-fest of ‘devil on my back’ which slips between a massive wall of guitar on the intro and a subtle, restrained verse that strains at the leash waiting for the chorus to arrive. Sadly, the album reaches its close all too quickly with the subtle, slow-burning ‘September moon’, a track that perfectly draws a line under No Sinner’s achievements to this point and leaves you very much wanting more.
When you sit down to think about what makes a successful rock ‘n’ roll band there are many areas to which you could look. For SonicAbuse, however, it is the depth of passion that a group of musicians display that truly decides whether a band is great or not. You can have no money, no production and no PR and still unleash a hell of a racket if you have the belief and the desire, and it is here that No Sinner excel. They are great musicians, no question, but it is the heart and soul that the band have poured into this release that make it so very special. Colleen has a way of singing that makes it sound as if she is singing just for you, while the band respond perfectly to her every mood, whether it be soft and sensuous or full-blooded rock attack. Most importantly, when you listen to ‘boo hoo hoo’ the album takes you on a wild tour of the emotions, always maintaining interest and making you want to go on to that next track. With not a drop of filler, ‘Boo hoo hoo’ is one hell of a release and an essential addition to the collection of anyone who mourns the absence of singers to match the power and passion of Tina Turner, Janis Joplin et al. No Sinner have produced a hugely important album with ‘boo hoo hoo’ and you need it in your collection.