12 songs – 52 minutes
Powerhouse vocalist, songwriter and bass player Lisa Mann plows new ground with this contemporary blues CD, a follow-up to her highly received 2012 release, “Satisfied.”
Now residing in Portland, Ore., she’s one of the most popular entertainers in the Pacific Northwest. Despite her youthful appearance, the West Virginia native with a big voice is tireless veteran of one of the most active blues scenes in the country, working with her own group, the Really Good Band, as well as an array of other top ensembles. A semi-finalist in the International Blues Challenge in 2011, she’s a member of the prestigious Cascade Blues Association’s hall of fame and its 2012 entertainer of the year. And she’s in high demand for her work on the six-string bass, having won three consecutive Muddy Awards as the CMA’s bass player of the year. In her spare time, she’s also provided vocals for Cry For Eden, the internationally acclaimed symphonic rock band.
Mann’s musical influences are varied, ranging from Little Milton, Etta James, Koko Taylor, Bonnie Raitt and Sheryl Crow to funk bassists Bob Babbitt and James Jamerson. Most of the nine originals here are drawn from her own life experience, and most do little to conceal her wry sense of humor. She delves deeply into R&B for this CD, aided by her regular lineup of Jeff Knudson (guitar), Michael Ballash (drums) and Brian Harris (keyboards). They’re augmented by a stellar group of sidemen, including harmonica master Mitch Kashmar, lead guitarist Sonny “Smokin’” Hess, backup singers LaRhonda Steele, Arietta Ward, Rae Gordon and Richard Arnold, drummer Dave Melvan and pianist Alex Shakeri.
A short, funky bass line leads into an equally shot guitar riff to kick off the uptempo title cut, “Move On,” before Lisa starts belting a message about making the best of life and leaving your troubles in the past: “I ain’t sayin’ nothin’ you don’t already know/When you’re painted in a corner, there’s only one way to go/You gotta move on.” Each member of the band gets a solo, demonstrating that they clearly mean business. The attack changes for “Are You Lonely,” a loping shuffle that doesn’t goes against the advice Mann lays down in the opener. It deals with a past love, and she can’t stop wondering about how he’s doing even though he was the one to split.
The guitar-fueled slow blues “Give Me Your Love” alters the mood, with the vocalist expressing sentiments about wanting to give her man everything, but that she’s only able to give what she’s got. Next, “The Blues Is My Medicine” was penned by Hess, who works with Mann in the Northwest Women’s Rhythm And Blues Revue. The message is clear from the title, with Hess providing the clean, tasty guitar lead. The pace slows for “You Don’t Know” with Kashmar making his first appearance as the song describes a woman who’s inflicting pain on her man because she can’t decide whether her relationship has reached its end.
“My Man” isn’t the song made popular by Ruth Etting in the 1920s and then given a second life by Billy Holiday. It’s an uptempo Mann original about a powerful, sweet man who’s always in control. It leads into another song of loss. “I’ve Been Used” gives Lisa plenty of space to stretch out her vocal chords for another message of romantic woe that any woman in a similar position can relate to before she delivers “Big Long List,” a jazzy, autobiographical, tongue-in-cheek, adults-only look at the chores she has to deal with in real life after returning home from the road. It carries an FCC warning because of repeated use of a dirty word.
Kashmar returns for a modern treatment of the Jimmy Reed classic “Ain’t That Lovin’ You, Baby” before Mann launches into “Doin’ OK,” which gives an accounting of the simple positives in her life. A cover of Little Milton’s “The Blues Is Alright” precedes the closer, “This Bitch,” a humorous, bass-driven rocker about the evil part of her personality, pictured as another woman, that follows around all day long.
A rock-solid offering. Mann provides the Really Good Band plenty of space to stretch out, and they deliver. Her vocals are rich and warm throughout, and her bass playing outstanding, but well-controlled within the mix.
This disc is available through iTunes, CDBaby and Amazon. However, if you order it directly through Lisa’s website, a portion of the money will go to the aid of Walter Trout, the ailing guitar wizard who is currently raising funds for a much needed liver transplant.