Michele D’Amour and The Love Dealers find Wiggle Room

Seattle born Michele D’Amour’s began playing piano and songwriting at the tender age of six and singing in the church choir. Her father’s record collection was a diverse and essential part of her musical development. After performing with a number of local bands, in 2012 she formed a band to embrace the blues, jazz, funk and rock she had come to love. Michele D’Amour And The Love Dealers was born and have now released their fourth album featuring ten original tracks and called, rather cleverly, Michele D’Amour and The Love Dealers Michele D’Amour and The Love Dealers was born and have now released their fourth album featuring ten original tracks and called, rather cleverly, Wiggle Room.

It opens with Falling Down, which blends a guitar and Hammond based rock backing riff with a cracking bass line that has a dash of funk in it. The flavour changes to jazz-rock when the sax and guitar share centre stage. Michele’s vocals are solid and on point with the rock infusion and it is a rather good song. Sweet Loving Man is next and uses the Mannish Boy/Trouble intro before sliding off into jazz-based blues with the sax featuring prominently with a quality solo. The title track, Wiggle Room, transports you into a smoky jazz lounge with a coned trumpet conjuring up the necessary atmosphere. This isn’t a favourite as pure jazz leaves me a little cold, but for what it is, it is damn good with a great vocal performance with some nice touches of humour in the lyrics. I am most definitely back on board for the funky soul of Honey On The Side. The guitar is low down in the mix but it is extremely well played and provides the right background for the sax solo and, throughout, as Michele pitches her voice perfectly. Nothing To No One is back into pure jazz and Miles Davis’ influence is all over the horn solo. The piano is also perfectly judged and takes you back into that smoky lounge. The next track, Let It Slide, comes as something of a surprise as, after jazz, we are suddenly confronted by Carlos Santana echoes in the guitar riff and the conga backing; indeed there is more than a flavour of Black Magic Woman in the phrasing. The keyboards and bass provide a brilliant backing before we are treated to a guitar solo that is not Santana; it is all Cornell and the picking is exquisite. Been So Long has another surprise waiting…Deep Purple’s Highway Star sounds to me like it was a reference here as we get brilliant guitar and Hammond. Some of the phrasings must have come from that classic but in saying that, it isn’t heavy rock it is a boogie-based blues with a joyous lilt to all of it. This is my favourite by far with every member contributing so well. The next track, Worthy changes tack again and is ballad of quality with the clever bass line sounding like it was performed on a fretless bass as its fluidity is seamless. A sax solo plays hauntingly over the bass with subtle keys and drums backing it all up. He Can’t Be Wrong moves into ragtime blues with the excellent piano providing the lead and a solo you could never tire of. Album closer, Hard Times, is a gospel blues or perhaps a better description is a blues lament. Introduced by a classical sounding piano and then organ chords that swell inside you. Michele has an ‘echo’ backing vocal from John Oliver III as she, rightly, criticises the hatred and the deaths of innocent people caused by racist violence. Not a pleasant subject I suppose but one that does need addressing in this world of ours…badly. A nice guitar illuminates toward the close to keep the tune uplifting even if the subject isn’t.

This album certainly reflects Michele’s powerful and emotion fuelled vocals and the band is highly skilled in all forms of backing and soloing. It has a little too much jazz for my personal tastes but, with cracking songs like Let It Slide and Been So Long, it is an album that will feature regularly on my playlists.

EIGHTpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …

Tracklisting:

  1. Falling Down
  2. Sweet Lovin Man
  3. Wiggle Room
  4. Honey On The Side
  5. Nothing To No One
  6. Let It Slide
  7. Been So Long
  8. Worthy
  9. He Can’t Be Wrong
  10. Hard Times

Musicians:
Michele D’Amour: vocals
Dave Delzotto: drums
Patrick McDanel: bass, trombone
Jeff Cornell: guitar
Brian Elendorf: keyboards
Noel Barnes: saxophone
Greg Lyons: trumpet
Angelo Ortiz: congas
Nora Michaels: backing vocals
John Oliver III: backing vocals

Recorded at Strange Earth Studios and produced by Mark Riley

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