11 songs – 39 minutes
Some CDs have that happy knack of sounding like some classic record you have loved and played for years whilst at the same time offering something fresh and new. 1953 by Cheryl Lescom & the Tucson Choir Boys is one such release.
Only 39 minutes long, Cheryl and her band pack in 9 self-written (with two more by singer-songwriter Lynn Jackson) heavily retro-blues/pop songs that will have you tapping your feet to an irresistible groove whilst enjoying well-written songs with clever lyrics, all played with authority and drive.
The opening song, “Dime Store Lover”, features Les Graham’s atmospheric slide guitar floating over a Tom Waits-esque groove with lyrics that could even have come from the master (“You’re my dollar store hope and my dime store ring. Take my heart and soul and I will make you my king”). The early rock’n’roll of “Soul Shakin’ Romance” and “Surrender” by contrast demonstrate the sweeter, more playful side to the band. Throughout, Lescom’s voice amply demonstrates why she has been noted as having “one of the best and biggest voices in Canada”. Ranging from weary to assertive to teasing to heartbroken, she inhabits each song with convincing emotion.
The Tucson Choir boys are an impressive outfit, providing first rate support to Lescom’s voice. Using primarily acoustic instruments, they often sound like an early rock’n’roll band transported from the 1950s to the present day. Featuring Dave The Cat and Robert Reid on lead acoustic guitars, Sameday Ray on acoustic rhythm guitars and backing vocals, Les Graham on upright bas, slide guitar and backing vocals, Kristine KK Walsh on rub-board and percussion, Jim Boudreau on drums, Steve O’Connor on keys, and Michael J Torbay on backing vocals, the Choir boys repeatedly demonstrate the power of tight ensemble playing where the solos are kept short, punchy and melodic. Special mention should also be given to the superb backing vocals, which again add a 50’s tint to music recorded with modern in-your-face attitude.
Songs styles range from the upbeat modern rock’n’roll of “Party Girl” to the gentle introspection of “It’s Not You, It’s Me” and the Bo Diddly-via-Dave Edmunds jungle drums of “Nice Mix Of Crazy”.
Graham’s slide resonator appears again on “Just Pressed Send”, a hilarious modern tale of danger and lust: “I told him all about my life. He told me he never had a wife. He said he was handsome and tall, and that he used to play professional football. He likes movies and walks in the park. He likes picnics but only after dark. The man’s so handy that he could build me a home. Well that was it. I told that man to phone. I wish I could take it back to where it all began, before the words got on the keyboard and I just pressed send.”
1953 is Cheryl Lescom’s fifth CD, but she has been touring and performing with the likes of Ronnie Hawkins, Long John Baldry and Jeff Healey for over 40 years. She and her band bring all that experience to bear in 1953, whilst still retaining the essential adolescent abandon that fuels all the best rock’n’roll. Really enjoyable release.