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Lisa Biales – Just Like Honey
Big Song Music
E.G. Kight is known in the blues community as a singer, writer delivering quality music. Now you can add the role of producer for this release co-producing along with Paul Hornsby Lisa Biales’ new album Just Like Honey.
Being it is my first exposure to her; I can’t think of anyone I can compare Lisa too vocally. I will say titling the CD Just Like Honey suits the music to a tee. It is warm, inviting and seductive. It draws the listener in and for the most part it is a laidback journey.
Not too many artists open their CD with Memphis Minnie’s “Call The Fire Wagon.” And you have to applaud Biales for making that decision. With clarinet playing by Monty Cole and fiddle playing by David Blackmon, the tune captures Minnie’s spirit as it recalls the era of swing. Relying on the foundation of guitarist Tommy Talton, drummer Bill Stewart and bassist Marshall Coats, Lisa creates a work of easy listening blues. There’s nothing aggressive. Musically it’s a relaxed affair.
If you are going to work with E.G. Kight, it doesn’t hurt to cover her songs and having her guest on vocals. Dubbing background vocals on Kight’s “Sugar” works out nicely and Pat Bergeson’s harp playing does sprinkle a little sugar on Kight’s happy-go-lucky composition.
Whereas the electric guitar is sometimes a dominant instrument on blues releases, it’s not the case here. Talton’s job is staying in the background as an acoustic guitarist only emerging now and then to cut loose with a little slide. That could also be said for Ken Wynn’s electric guitar playing. After-all they are there to support Biales and not over-step with anything wild.
For those familiar with singer Candye Kane, listeners will have cause to rejoice when they hear “Gifted In The Ways Of Love.” This is one of the few times Wynn can exercise his chops on guitar and Paul Hornsby can add electric piano playing that is like the guitar playing. Both coming out of the less-is-more school. Besides it enhances the song’s Chicago shuffle blues style.
Of course you have to have Paul Hornsby play on more than one track. On another Kight composition “When You Were Mine,” Hornsby’s piano and Hammond tones are just mint in presenting this tune in the after-hours jazz club glow.
Not only does Lisa have a strong grip on material by Minnie, she doesn’t cower from taking on numbers covered by Ma Rainey and Odetta. Taking on the J. Mayo Williams number “Yonder Come The Blues” proves Biales can handle old fashion blues with ease but moving it forward to this century. Bergeson’s harmonica playing once again adds that back-porch vibe along with Talton’s slide guitar.
doesn’t team up with E.G. to write many songs for this release. It’s too
bad because “Gypsy Woman Blues” packs enough of a punch with Talton’s
bottleneck spraying fire over strings that sound like their being pulled
taut over a metal garbage can.
Taking inspiration from Guy Davis, Biales writes a piece of old blues entitled “Peaches” with a strong nod to the past as she borrows lines from Trixie Smith and William Harris. And covering the vintage Bonnie Raitt number “Give It Up” has the Capricorn ensemble just having fun and rocking. Singing with Kight in “Blues Stay Away From Me” finds Biales happy in a comfort zone knowing strong support from the sidelines contributes to her musical experience she knows is worthwhile. She’s more than happy to sing a track Tommy Talton brought to the sessions entitled “Watch Out Baby Don’t Cry.” This just might be the rockingest song on the record with Hornsby’s hot Hammond playing and Talton’s slide work recalling Duane Allman’s session work.
Free from the over-driven blues-rock, this is an enjoyable listening experience.
Reviewer Gary Weeks is a contributing writer. He resides in Marietta, GA.