Michele D’Amour And The Love Dealers – Wiggle Room
10 songs – 39 minutes
Seattle-based singer-songwriter Michele D’Amour assembled a new band and takes a dramatically different approach to her music with this release, a collection of 10 originals that primarily deliver stylish, jazz-rooted blues with the classic feel of the ‘50s and ‘60s along with a little swing, boogie, Latin and gospel.
That’s quite a leap of faith for the former child prodigy keyboard player because her most recent previous CD, Lost Nights At The Leopard Lounge, delivered straight-ahead blues, earned multiple awards nominations from the Washington Blues Society and one of its tunes, “Trouble,” took home grand prize in the jazz category at the 2017 international John Lennon Songwriting Competition.
A published poet who grew up singing in the church, Michele possesses is alto with a rich, warm voice. Although somewhat limited in range, she’s a solid stylist who consistently drives her music forward with a delivery that’s slightly behind the beat.
Recorded at Strange Earth Studios and Love Studios in Seattle with Grammy-winning engineer Steve Feasley at the controls, Wiggle Room was produced by Washington Blues Society Hall Of Fame guitarist Mark Riley. It features Jeff Cornell on guitars, Brian Olendorf on keys and Noel Barnes on tenor and alto sax backed by Patrick McDanel on bass and trombone and Dave Delzotto on drums. They’re augmented by special guests Angelo Ortiz (congas), Greg Lyons (trumpet) and Nora Michaels and John Oliver III (backing vocals).
The opener, “Falling Down,” is a funky number that deals with repeated, failed attempts at getting one’s life together. It features a mid-tune solo with Cornell and Barnes trading riffs. “Sweet Lovin’ Man” is a horn-driven stop-time blues, while the title song, “Wiggle Room” is a smoky, slow-paced jazz lounge ballad on which D’Amour shines atop beautiful horn runs from Lyons and Barnes.
The pace quickens for the funky “Honey On The Side,” which cautions a man with two lovers that he’d better beware when he reaches into the hive. If the queen catches him, he probably won’t survive. The jazz-flavored “Nothing To No One” is a small-combo jazz number that describes a homeless man standing on the corner holding a sign as people ignore him and pass by, while “Let It Slide” is a Latin-flavored funk that hints of War and Carlos Santana as it cautions not to sweat the small stuff that life presents.
The sound takes on a boogie beat for “Been So Long” with D’Amour singing from the standpoint of a woman scorned. The theme continues in “Worthy,” a modern torch song in which the singer’s been dumped and changed her appearance, but the man still doesn’t care. Olendorf gets to stretch out on the 88s for the rollicking “He Can’t Be Wrong” before the gospel-flavored “Hard Times” deals with current world events to bring the action to a close.
Available from Amazon, iTunes, CDBaby, Spotify and direct from the artist’s website (address above), Wiggle Room is chock full of solid originals. It will appeal to you if you prefer your blues classy and with frequent jazz overtones.