Music You Don't Know You Like Yet
Lisa Mills is a vocal powerhouse with a rich expressive voice that can handle tender ballads with a clear voice one moment while adding a bit of rough-hewn rasp in the service of harder hitting mid-tempo tracks the next. She’s also capable of a full-throated roar that will move your curtains while never succumbing to the blues mama shout that is the downfall of too many lesser vocalists. And, of course, a voice without attention to phrasing is like an engine without a car. That’s not a problem with Mills as she lingers where necessary and scats on by when not. This set finds her applying that marvelous voice to a number of classics from the sweet spot of southern soul, blues and R & B. Recorded in the storied Sun, Fame, Royal and Malaco studios in Memphis, Muscle Shoals and Jackson, Mississippi with a rotating cast of musicians this is a pleasing trip down memory lane. Each track was recorded in the studio that gave birth to the original song and in many cases features some of the same musicians. While this could be a recipe for pale imitations in lesser hands, Mills and crew pull it off in grand style. Included in the 14 cuts are terrific versions of a duo of Etta James classics, "Tell Mama" and "I’d Rather Go Blind", Clarence Carter’s "Slip Away", Little Milton’s "That’s What Love Will Make You Do", Bobby Womack’s "I’m In Love", Denise LaSalle’s "Someone Else Is Steppin’ In", Mable John’s "Same Time Same Place" and the Bobby Blue Bland weeper, "Members Only". With all manner of horns, keys, guitars and percussion laying down a well-oiled groove that exudes the rich history of these tracks, Mills makes them her own, a particularly impressive feat given the fact that her vocals were recorded live and she had never played with the various musicians that producer/guitarist Fred Mollin assembled for the three sessions. This stroll down memory lane is a journey worth taking. SMITTY
review by Mark
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