Jade Bennett – Death Time Love
Rip Cat Records RIC 1701
8 songs – 35 minutes
Based out of Riverside, Calif., Jade Bennett — whose powerfully syrupy alto has been featured nationally in support of Sugaray Rayford and other artists — makes her recording debut as a band leader on this tasty release.
An accomplished tunesmith in addition to being a unique and dynamic vocalist, Bennett was born into a musical family and reportedly sang before she could talk. She penned three of the eight tunes here in a work that fuses blues and soul with some jazz overtones. The subject matter deals with intimate personal experience, ranging from fighting inner demons to facing the challenges of everyday life.
Death Time Love features three of the hottest guitar players on the West Coast. Laura Chavez and International Blues Challenge winner Joey Delgado provide lead on five cuts. And Gino Matteo, who’s both Jade’s husband, producer and co-writer in addition to being a Rayford alumnus and bandleader himself, takes the lead on three tunes and adds rhythm throughout.
Rounding out the sound are a rhythm section composed of bassist James Breker and drummer Lavell Jones with additional percussion from Trevor Monks and backing vocals from Rachele Quiogue, Zara Davis, Travis Dagget and Victor Alfaro.
The bittersweet “Death Came A-Knockin’” opens the action with an acapella vocal intro similar to Ruthie Foster’s original. Bennett powers through the steady, walking blues with a gospel feel aided by a choir in a version that remains faithful but still gives Jade space to add her own melismic flourishes. Gino’s low-register single-note guitar run sets up “Point Of No Return,” a deliberately paced ballad that it’s decision time in a troubled relationship.
Chavez heats up the action for “Why Buy The Cow!” It’s a cleverly constructed funk that finds Bennett delivering a bit of advice to another woman whose man wants sex but won’t give her a ring. As you’ve probably figured, Jade relays the axiom she’d heard from her mother: Why buy the cow when the milk is free. Delgado’s sweet chording appears for the first time to open another powerful ballad, “Table For Two,” which describes walking out on a man who’s never on time.
The stoptime classic “A Fool In Love” is up next with Laura in the mix. Jade’s voice powers through another brief, slow-paced acapella opener before the band rushes out of the gate to breathe new life into the rocker with which Ike and Tina Turner made their 1960 debut on Sun Records.
Delgado’s funky fretwork highlights “Sister Darktimes,” which describes an inveterate user, a woman who hits the singer “like a cold, wet blanket/And she undresses my dead hide” as she builds her up then tears her down. The final original, “The Bad Kind,” features Laura in another introspective ballad with Bennett realizing she’s “spent the night throwing verbal punches at you, my only friend,” before a cover of the walking blues “After Dark,” written by Steve Huffsteder Pussylovers and Tito Larriva, brings the disc to a close with a Matteo’s guitar providing a neo-psychedelic feel.
Available through Amazon, IsraBox and other online retailers, Death Time Love is a strong debut from a vocalist who deserves to be heard. It’s thoroughly modern blues that comes across with a traditional feel.