Bluesdoodles rating: 3 Doodle Paws – a great listen if you like soul first and blues second: there is no doubt Lady A has serious talent and if soul is your thing, you’ll love this.
Although this is her ninth album, called Satisfyin’ I must admit I haven’t come across Lady A before and, a word of warning to like-minded music lovers, a search for “Lady A Satisfyin’” turned up some suggestions on, shall we say, ways to ensure happiness ensues. (To save your embarrassment follow the link Lady A) Eventually, I did find this Lady’s site, although I first had to get past all of the stories of Lady Antebellum trying to hijack the Lady A name…from a personal point of view, I cannot understand how a band without the history can strong-arm the rightful owner in a court…Anita is fighting it and I wish her well.
I discovered that Anita White has been singing up a storm as Lady A for more than twenty years and those previous eight albums have been universally well received for her instinctive soul-blues delivery and sensibilities.
Anyway, the real Lady A is from Seattle, although there are hints of the deep south in her music and, as she cites influences such as Denise LaSalle, Ella Fitzgerald, Rosetta Tharpe and Big Mama Thornton, my expectations are high. The latest album has blues, soul and gospel running through its ten tracks and a solid group of musicians providing the backing to her vocals.
Whatever You Do opens proceedings with a bluesy/jazz shuffle with nice keys and neat guitar riffs running through: it is Lady A that carries it of course, with her distinct and soulful blues style. The title track, Satisfyin’, is funky and horny and slap bass that, unusually, doesn’t irritate me. A bit too soul for me, but still a powerful song.
Miss Buela Mae’s sounds like it was recorded live and its soulful structure and Whoopi style spoken discussion doesn’t float my boat, but it will fill your sails if you like this strong kind of soul. Big Momma on the other hand is a song with a relevant and important message wrapped in soul/blues/jazz: “I’m big and beautiful from my toes to my chest” is her semi-humorous way of saying everyone has beauty, regardless of dress size.
Blues On My Mind is bluesy soul as Lady A pays tribute to her heroes (Rosetta and Nina amongst others)…the guitar is clever and the almost atonal horns works a treat. The highlight for me, however, is a bass solo…are, but welcome.
Blues Soul Catfish and Fried Wings tends again toward soul with lashings of funk but she does it so well and the instrumentation is quality, except for the suspect snare…a drum machine? Brighter Day starts with harp and a decent tempo that is soon irresistible. The Hammond sound-alike could have had a solo I’m humble to expand on the clever rhythms…ah well. Enjoy Your Life is Motor City soul done well. For The People In The Back (All I Got) is a strong song from every angle with the gospel setting the base for a surprisingly catchy composition.
The final track, Heaven Help Us All, stays gospel with a ballad many an artist on Tamla would have loved.
Although for me, there is too much soul and not enough blues (or solos!) there is no doubt Lady A has serious talent and if soul is your bag, you’ll love this.
Whatever You Do
Miss Buela Mae’s
Blues On My Mind
Blues Soul Catfish and Fried Wings
Enjoy Your life
For The People In The Back (All I Got)
Heaven Help Us All
Lady A: vocals
John Studamire: bass on 2,4,6
Herman Brown: guitar on 1,2,4,6
Paul Richardson: bass, drums and guitar on 3; keyboards on 1,3 (presumably not all at once!)
Joe Seamons: harmonica on 5
John Oliver III all instruments except as stated above and production
(iTunes once again travelled back in time to one of Ritchie Blackmore’s early bands, The Lancasters, and their instrumental take on Hall of the Mountain King…called Satan’s Holiday, it has early signs of his fantastic abilities and (shock, horror) sense of humour as he lightheartedly interprets the original. He, of course, also used the same song on the 1995 Rainbow album Stranger In Us All.)