Originally from Houston, Texas, Teresa James is based in Los Angeles where she works with some of the top LA based touring and session musicians in her band, The Rhythm Tramps. No stranger to Bluesdoodles, you can find more information and reviews via the search option.
For her twelfth album, Teresa has donned her Rose Colored Glasses and, with writing partner, Terry Wilson have come up with a dozen new, original tracks that sway a little more toward soul but are still firmly rooted in the blues. The title, by the way, has “Vol. 1” tacked on so we can assume there is more in the pipeline. (Curiously, there is another record called Rose Coloured Glasses…note the ‘U’ in ‘colour’. This was back in 1968 when the British/Australian singer Johnny Farnham released a single by that name and was only one of many hits he had in various countries, as well as spending time with the Little River Band.)
On to the music and the opening bluesy, soul song, Show Me How To Do It: Teresa’s vocal is as strong as ever and, as always, totally convincing in the way she transfers the words to music. The lead guitar is rather tasty too. Takes One To Know One is another soulful outing with the horns driving the basic melody as the vocals again imbue the song with the right feeling and the bass, drums and guitar add admirable backing.
The title track is soulful too and has such a delicious slide solo that it takes on a different feel altogether…sort of ‘soulide’ as a new genre in my head at least. I Got A Love I Wanna Hold On To is a hybrid of a different kind…blues from the South with a rumba backing and great guitar and a sax solo to keep it together while Teresa sounds laid back but still puts emphasis where it matters and she does it beautifully.
All You Ever Bring Me Is The Blues is, only slightly, contradictory as the jazz inspiration sings through the vocals, keys and brushed drums and the guitar feeds the blues into it occasionally and effectively. The strangely titled Wish It Into The Cornfield is from an episode of The Twilight Zone apparently…that was a TV series of the weird and otherworldly which first began in the late fifties and was revived in 2019. Anyway, the song is suitably atmospheric with a great drum intro leading to a mid-pace bluesy song about a war veteran backed with meaningful vocals and some lovely guitar phrasing throughout.
The mood shifts to the dance floor with Once The World Stops Ending: a soul, blues amalgam that, with Teresa’s vocals fitting perfectly into the 70s feel. The guitar again is worth listening out for as, despite a solo proper, the way it’s used to bring highlights and emphases to the song is a delight. Now, how about a reggae background overlaid with slide guitar? Not the usual marriage but it does work rather well. Everybody, Everybody has a charm and complexity that grows with every listen. Slide also features nicely on Thing’s Ain’t Like That as the rolling drums and keys meld with the vocal and the slide illuminates it all…especially on the short solo sections when the bottleneck speaks subtle volumes.
When My Baby Comes Home is the piano-led ballad that is one of Teresa’s strengths…the addition of strings adds atmosphere as Teresa shows how these soulful ballads should be sung. Rise Together is back to the blues with horns, organ and some sheer brilliance from the drums…listen to the shuffle changes; the hi-hat use and quiet rimshots add a texture that illustrates the art of drumming and how it is often overlooked.
The final track, Gimme Some Skin, could well have cheated in the 60s and 70s with its rock ’n’ roll backing and sing-a-long choruses. The guitar is in keeping with that feel and adds so much colour to the whole thing.
We come to expect a high standard from Teresa and her Tramps and they do not disappoint: another great listen from a group of musicians who are masters of their chosen instruments with plenty of guests who don’t try and steal the limelight but add to it as the vocals run the gamut of emotions to suit the story lines.
Bluesdoodles rating: 3 Doodle Paws – a great listen from a group of consummate professionals covering a range of soul and blues so well.
Show Me How You Do It
Takes One To Know One
Rose Colored Glasses
I Got A Love I Wanna Hold On To
All You Ever Bring Me Is The Blues
Wish It Into The Cornfield
Once The World Stops Ending
Thing’s Ain’t Like That
When My Baby Comes Home
Gimme Some Skin
Teresa James: vocals, piano
Terry Wilson: guitar, bass
Billy Watts: guitar
Jay Bellerose and Herman Matthews: drums
Anson Funderburgh, Johnny Lee Schell, Lee Roy Parnell, Snuffy Walden, Dean Parks, David Milsap, Yates McKendree and James Pennebaker: guitar
Paulie Cerra: saxophones
Darrell Leonard: all brass
Kevin McKendree: keyboards
Richard Milsap, Lucy Wilson and Nicki Bluhm: backing vocals
Michael Starr: strings on “When My Baby Comes Home.”
(iTunes, after playing more from Teresa and her Live album, moved onto the band that gave birth to the brilliant Thunder (a glance at the cover photos and you will recognise but not believe that Danny, Luke and Harry ever looked like that)….called Terraplane, they were very much a poppy rock band but with obvious potential, that arrived when they became Thunder and released Back Street Symphony.)