Acclaimed South African rock band The Black Cat Bones is set to release its anticipated new album titled “Book of Miriam”, which is an ode to the women of South Africa.
Set to officially drop on July 29, the “Book of Miriam” is the band’s brand new project since signing to leading indie label Just Music in 2020, is a significant fresh take on the production effort in association with the label and producer Mathew Fink at Atomic Studios.
Speaking to IOL Entertainment, master guitarist André Kriel says the album is by no means a tribute record, but rather an ode to all women.
“I would be lying if I said that the album title was not influenced by the life and works of Miriam Makeba.
“We obviously added some Bones flavour to it and gave it a bit of a beat boost and voila! The idea to pay homage to all things women sprouted from the Mamma Africa legend that Miriam represented.
In the new body of work, the band had included the funked-up track “Quit It”, originally recorded by Miriam Makeba in 1972.
“The soulful-funk direction is something that we’ve always tinkered with in our live performances, but never really got into in the studio.
“When the label suggested that we try our hand on a few of these tracks, it stimulated us as a catalyst for fresh song-writing and new studio production ideas.
“We’ve still retained much of the core Bones blues-roots sound, but this time around we’ve opened ourselves up to an array of ideas we’ve never had the confidence to pursue before. This is by far the most honest album we’ve done to date.
Kriel says, The ‘book’ of Miriam can be viewed as a form of life manual written by a mother, instructing her children to respect and hold dear all women.
“The lyrical content does not always refer directly to this but a very clear vein runs throughout the album which teaches us about the potential pitfalls in life, just like a mother would.
“The outstretched open palms on the cover image also depict the giving nature of a mother or woman and we wanted to embrace this strong and significant symbolism that it represents.
Kriel went on to explain that the 11-track album also features other iconic songs including: “Bob Dylan’s ‘I Shall Be released’, which combines images of religious redemption with implied literal release from prison.”
“This can also translate to the release from mental or physical enslavement which usually ties into addictions or bad habits of sorts.
“The production includes the voices from the Amakhosi Amahle Choir, which added a very distinct local isicathamiya twist to the chorus, ultimately bringing it back full circle to the roots of all music, Africa.”
On how he previously interacted with Mama Makeba’s works before the project, Kriel explains: “Growing up in South Africa meant that you were exposed to a vast array of local musical styles and songs like ‘Pata-Pata’, Soweto Blue’s and The ‘Click’ song kind of got embedded into your upbringing whether you were into it or not.
“Those rhythms and styles still have the same impact on music today as they did in the 1970s.
“Ma Miriam’s active involvement in the civil rights movements of that time also meant that her music and works were constantly featured in the media and her iconic image still lingers to this day.”
Putting him on the spot, I had to ask about his favourite track on the album and Kriel revealed: “The last track on the album called ‘Mayo’ was intended to just be a fun jam track featuring some brass and other world music elements.
"It is also a testament to the fact we should not take ourselves too seriously these days. It grew so much on me that I have to listen to it at least once a day to get my creative juices flowing.”
Founded in 2007, The Black Cat Bones is arguably South Africa’s top rock band and it comprises Andre Kriel, Kobus de Kock, Gareth Bunge and Casey Rothman.
With a back catalogue of four previous self-released albums since 2009, including the SAMA Award ‘’Best Rock Album’’ winner ‘’Beatpiller’’ (2013), the band has continued to evolve both as songwriters and in the studio.
Kriel confirmed that the band will soon be undertaking a national tour. Dates are yet to be announced.
“Book of Miriam” will be released on all digital platforms on July 29.