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Sista Monica Parker - Living in the Danger Zone

Mo Muscle Records

14 tracks

Sista Monica Parker is a big woman with an even bigger voice. Hailing from San Francisco, she can give any of the Chicago area women blues singers a run for their money. She is a blues shouter in the finest tradition and her songs inspire the listener to get on their feet and dance. Ms. Parker had at least a part in penning a dozen of these songs; the other two are a traditional and a Robert Cray cover. She gives herself a good vehicle for her ample talents with her songs.

The opening track “Hug Me Like You Love Me” was inspired by BB King. Earlier in 2011 when Monica asked him for a picture together after they did a show together in Santa Cruz, he told her, “Sure, come in close and hug me like you love me.” She says will never forget that moment and immortalized it with a song. It is a upbeat and hot number that gets the heart pumping for the rest of the album.

She follows that up with the title track, a slower tempo cut where she both belts and growls out some mean vocals. Let me also say right here that her regular band is up to the task of matching up with her immense voice. Mike Schermer on guitar offers up some great licks, and perhaps even more impressive is Daniel Beconini on piano and Hammond B3 organ. His keyboard work fills in the spaces where needed and the solos here and elsewhere are really excellent. He also serves as co-writer and arranger for Monica and does a stellar job.

Slow blues like “Tears,” “Let Me Moan”, “Unstoppable”, “You Can’t Go Back” and “Once Loved, Twice Bitten” offer up the version of Monica showing restraint. The power of her vocals even when she holds back is intense. Cray’s “The Forecast Calls for Pain” is the other down tempo song offered on this CD and she does another great job with it. She can be sultry and gritty, but one knows there s a tiger being held by the tail waiting to escape. The down tempo stuff is cool, but she really excels when she can let it all hang out.

“Glory Hallelujah” is done as a duet with Kelly Hunt (who also does the piano on that cut) and it is a powerful experience. They take the listener to church and make them sit down and listen. “Fierce Force of Nature” is Monica at her boldest. The horn section lets loose, here, too.

Whether it’s slow, funky like “Just Keep Living”, or bold like “Worn Out Your Welcome”, Parker is up to the task and gives her all. The rest of her band are equally solid, with a mix of her touring band and long list studio musicians supporting her. If you want to hear old-school female blues, R&B and gospel vocals with a big, fresh and clean sound then look no further; Monica’s got a great new CD for you to buy and listen to!

Reviewer Steve Jones is a Board Member 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 works with their Blues In The Schools program.

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