New Hampshire born Veronica Lewis is ludicrously young (to an old git like me), and supremely talented on keys…plus she has now a mostly self-penned, self-produced album called You Ain’t Unlucky on release…and yes, all of this productiveness at the tender age of seventeen!
In the music world, thankfully, age is not an issue be it as young as the delectable Veronica or of more advanced years such as Buddy Guy…it is all about the artist’s ability to communicate through their music. Fortunately for us, she most certainly does and with stated influences from Katie Webster, Otis Spann, and Dr. John to Freddie Mercury and Avril Lavigne we get a truly modern take on blues and rock ’n’ roll because, make no mistake, each of her compositions is firmly rooted in our beloved genre and this lady’s interpretation of the blues tropes is genuinely refreshing. Aided by a powerful and meaningful vocal style as well as (looking at the PR photos) a remarkable spread between thumb and little finger that enables her piano skills to really dazzle.
So, on to the music, and the opening and title track leaves no doubt that a new star is born into the blues firmament: the irresistible rolling boogie begets the two stunning Prof. Longhair style solo and it rounds out with a tempered sax solo…great start. Clarksdale Sun keeps the boogie woogie-ing but a little quicker! Her storytelling is always entertaining too and shot through with sparks of humour which she also conveys on a blinding solo.
Put Your Wig On Mama is slower and pure blues with a sound that belies that this is a trio, not a full band. More wonderful soloing that is original as well as measured and imaginative. The first cover is the hoary old Louis Jordan classic, Is You Is My Baby, which wouldn’t win any grammar awards but in her hands, Veronica turns it into an absolute re-classic (I just made that up, but you get my drift).
Fool Me Twice could be a whole new genre…prog boogie woogie anyone? I say that because the neat, instinctive time signature changes would grace any proggy composition and yet t is most definitely blues boogie that also has the aural sex infectiousness (that’s my preferred term for ear worm as that sound a creepy!!) This is genius and needs to listened to properly to appreciate the scope and quality.
Next up is a cover of one of Veronica’s heroes, Katie Webster: Whoo Whee Sweet Daddy is another boogie blast of fun with sparkling piano throughout. Ode To Jerry Lee is a homage to the other Lewis that played the piano! This instrumental is so clever in the way it takes some Jerry Lee standard phrasings and builds around them to produce a totally original tribute with dazzling keyboard work to boot and a simply delightful final few bars.
The final track is The Memphis Train and the rolling piano and snare work make you believe the train is pulling in (or out) anytime soon…it also has probably my favourite solo of them all as it rolls, chimes and tantalises quite beautifully.
Complaint time now: eight songs and thirty three minutes? I doubt I will be the only one that wanted a few more. Otherwise, if you love blues piano then this is an absolute essential purchase. Mind you, I am a guitar freak and I still loved it and ended up playing air keyboards for a change.
Forget the age thing; this is mature, well written, brilliantly performed blues.
Bluesdoodles rating: 4 Doodle paws – a Wonderful album that entertains from first note to last that will draw you in and make you want to join the party.
You Ain’t Lucky
Put Your Wig On Mama
Is You Is My Baby
Fool Me Twice
Whoo Whee Sweet Daddy
Ode To Jerry Lee
The Memphis Train
Veronica Lewis: vocals, piano
Ben Rogers, Mike Walsh, Chris Anzalone: drums
Don Davis, Joel Edinberg: saxophone
(The iTunes run on track this time reminded me why i have always had a soft spot for Elkie Brooks and Robert Palmer before their chart successes…step forward Vinegar Joe!)