Vaneese pulls no punches on Fight The Good Fight

Vaneese pulls no punches on Fight The Good Fight

Vaneese pulls no punches on Fight The Good Fight a great listen to an album packed with flawless talent from Vaneese and her large cast of musicians definitely more Soul than Blues

Bluesdoodles rating: 3 Doodle Paws – a great listen to an album packed with flawless talent from Vaneese and her large cast of musicians and, if you lean little toward soulful, this is essential

Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Vaneese Thomas is the daughter of Rufus Thomas, who you must have heard of from his long and distinguished career as an R’n’B musician and entertainer. The music business certainly rubbed off on the family as her brother is the noted keyboard player Marvell and her sister, Carla a successful singer. Regardless of her lineage, Vaneese has proved her talents as a singer, songwriter and actress has worked with such luminaries as Pavarotti, Stevie Wonder and Eric Clapton amongst many others. Additionally, she has appeared on cinema soundtracks and TV and still found time to help found a couple of Gospel choirs whilst steadily releasing solo albums that reflected her soul, R’n’B and blues heritage. She now has a new release available called Fight The Good Fight, as she brings that sometimes silken, sometimes muted but always entrancing voice to bear on this album, her ninth and a worthy follow up to the Down Yonder release from 2019.

The cover of this new album pays pictorial homage to her father as Vaneese is pictured beneath roadsigns pointing to Rufus Thomas Boulevard…a nice touch.

Opening with the rousing call to everyone to battle injustice in America (and applicable everywhere), Raise the Alarm is a horn-led soulful song that shows that Vaneese is still all-powerful in the heart, soul and emotion that if fed into every note. The guitar work is subtle but clever and gets a chance to shine in a short and tasty solo. Same Blood Same Bone is about Memphis, equality and the birth of soul…a slow shuffle with another solid backing from all involved: notable is the when of organ, neat guitar and fabulous backing vocals. Rosalee is my current favourite: jaunty banjo, subtle slide (great, too short solo) and a great bass line add up, with a great vocal, to a fun song with a message.

Vaneese plays the piano that drives the slightly jazzy, soulful I’m Movin’ On and nice slide to give it extra bite. Time for a ballad and Time to Go Home delivers an emotive mandolin and accordion to back an equally expressive vocal, all over some nice acoustic guitar. A bit bluesier, When I’ve Had a Few brings slow rhythms that build around solid bass and drum with piano and pedal steel bringing a deal of depth.

Bad Man is proper blues with recognisable tropes woven to bring a freshness: harp, organ and neat guitar underpinned by lovely bass and drums give the perfect stage for the vocals to shine…the guitar and harp solos are very good too. With a title like Blue, it is no surprise that we’re regaled by a tale of heartbreak as Vaneese pours emotion into this mainly acoustic with a Latin feel to the song. The simple bass intro and glistening electric chords set it up well and the acoustic slide solo is beautiful if exceedingly short.

‘Till I See You Again starts with a familiar chord sequence before the horns and vocals develop it into a drama-filled, soul/blues. The rock-based guitar solo is (short) but a little low in the mix as, to my ear, the top end doesn’t shine as it should. He’s a Winner has some clever instrumentation that the vocals weave around: subtle harp, acoustic slide and electric rock all work well….a sort of country blues rock with soul and gospel mixed in!

Fight the Good Fight, with the fiddle intro, is Nashville country with added soul…a soul that steals the show. The final track, Lost in the Wilderness, opens with piano and voice with a gospel feel that builds to a rockier and soulful song and delivers a great guitar solo too.

As with her previous album, the soul to blues ratio for me is skewed but the performances from Vaneese and her large cast of musicians are flawless and, if you lean a little toward soulful, this is essential.

Vaneese Thomas pulls no punches on Fight The Good Fight

Track listing:
Raise the Alarm
Same Blood Same Bone
I’m Movin’ On
Time to Go Home
When I’ve Had a Few
Bad Man
‘Till I See You Again
He’s a Winner
Fight the Good Fight
Lost in the Wilderness

Vaneese Thomas: vocals, piano, keyboards
Wayne Warnecke: drums, bass, guitars, organ, percussion
Shawn Pelton: drums, percussion
Will Lee, Paul Adamy: bass
Paul Guzzone: bass, guitars, backing vocals
Al Orlo: guitars, mandolin
Tash Neal: guitars
Scott Sharrard: guitars
Jon Robert: organ
Joe Mannonna: accordion
Peter Calo: banjo
Katie Jacoby: violin
Mark Franklin: trumpet
Kirk Smothers: baritone saxophone
Lannie McMillan: tenor saxophone
Justin Schipper: pedal steel guitar
Corrin Huddleston: harmonica

James Williams, Lisa Fischer, Emily Bindiger, Kati Mac: backing vocals

Connect with Vaneese Thomas across SOCIAL MEDIA
Official Website

(iTunes helped me revisit some 2018 rock from Vantage Point and their Work Work Work album…the lead-off track being the irresistible Zombie Train.)

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