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Laurie Morvan - Breathe Deep

Screaming Lizard Records

11 tracks

I heard Laurie Morvan for the first time last year on her great CD "Fire It Up". She is a stellar guitar player with consummate phrasing and respect for both the music and the spaces between the notes. I love her technique and style. She is one of the rising stars in the blues guitar world and anyone who wants to hear the future of blues guitar should pick up one of her CDs and check her out.

Joined by her band (Lisa Grubbs - background vocals, percussion, Tommy Salyers - keyboards, Pat Morvan - bass, and Kevin Murillo - drums), Morvan again offers up all original music on this CD as on her last which won Best Self Produced Blues CD from the Blues Foundation Awards; she was a finalist with her prior CD in 2009, too.

This new CD follows the last with great musicianship and playing. I continue to be completely impressed with her guitar work. Another complete set of original songs are offered up here, and perhaps that is where my love of Ms. Morvan begins to wane just a little (not a lot, just a little). The lyrics to the songs sound a lot alike over the two albums I've listened to and are predictable; they remind me a lot of pop country song lyrics at times. She also belts them out quite well, but her voice sometimes lacks the bluesy edge we hear in other Blues CDs. Her vibrato and style does not sell me on her being "blues". It is more on an angst filled country rock sound that she offers up in her singing style. Many like her vocals, but they don't sound completely like blues to me.

Those flaws are minor and minor flaws aside, she can wail with the best of them, and you may actually like her singing style. Where she really excels is in her guitar work. She is impeccable and not over the top. I love her guitar phrasing and approach to songs. I would love to see her live and see what she sounds like out of the studio!

She starts off with the funny and cute "No Working On Drinking Hours", a sort of novelty song about separating your work and play. Then she gets mostly into the slower tracks are ones that appealed less to me, but showed promise and great guitar licks. "Saved by the Blues" is nice slow rock/blues, but the lyrics and story feel a little overused while "Back Up the Train" is straight up and visceral slow blues delivered in gut wrenching style, by far the best of the slower tracks. "It Only Hurts When I Breathe" offers nice guitar and soulful singing. "I've Had Enough" gives us some wah-wah pedal and better lyrics with wicked guitar. "Bad Love Blues" is more of that slow blues rock as is the closing "Long Time 'til I'm Gone".

When she steps up the pace the songs get better and better. "Mojo Mama" may have predictable lyrics, but it steps up notch in tempo. "Beat Up from the Feet Up" offers some nice driving guitar and a good blues story with a fun title line. "Hurtin' and the Healing" is mid tempo, some more nice solo work. "Thelma and Louise" is a female escape song paying homage to the famous film and it's characters. Clean guitar lines abound here. Most of these songs are somewhat restrained- I'd love to hear Laurie get loose and let it all go.

Morvan is an extremely great guitar player. She's a great musician who understands music and how to perform. I truly look forward to seeing her live soon!

Reviewer Steve Jones is secretary of the Crossroads Blues Society and is a long standing blues lover. He is a retired Navy commander who served his entire career in nuclear submarines. In addition to working in his civilian career, he writes for and publishes the bi-monthly newsletter for Crossroads, chairs their music festival and work with their Blues In The Schools program.

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