Cardinal Black: debut albums seldom sound so impeccably assured

Compelling Cardiff collective Cardinal Black have lift-off with sublime debut LP January Come Close

Cardinal Black: January Came Close cover art
(Image: © Jumo In Records)

Why you can trust Louder Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

A year ago, Cardinal Black guitarist Chris Buck told this magazine that the fledgling band’s best was yet to come. January Came Close is either a promise well-kept or the dawn of something remarkable. 

The Welshmen’s first album is an unequivocal labour of love, combining rock and soul-soaked blues to magnificent effect – introducing singer Tom Hollister and the award-winning, Slash-approved Buck as world-class talents. 

The lush Terra Firma glides gently with Buck’s resplendent guitar work, often favouring feel over fire. Where Do You Go? is more of a canter, where Hollister’s rich vocals soar throughout. Jump In and Warm Love entrance with more of Buck’s unworldly invention. 

Penultimate song I’m Ready lunges from sonorous ballad to playful blues jam in four fantastic minutes. Like a warm embrace, these spectacular songs envelop the listener from start to finish. Debut albums seldom sound so impeccably assured.

Copywriter, music journalist and drummer. Once fist bumped James Hetfield. Words for The Guardian, Gear4Music, Metro, Exposed Mag.