American Showplace Music ASM7006
11 songs – 43 minutes
There’s no mistaking Alexis P. Suter, the petite, but ultra-powerful singer, when she approaches the microphone. Her delivery simply is like no other, as this intensely intimate album reveals once again.
The daughter of a postal worker father and teacher mother, a vocalist who studied at Julliard and also sang backup for Harry Belafonte, Mahalia Jackson and others, Alexis grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., in a church and gospel background, which is clearly evident in her commanding presence.
But what truly separates her from the pack is her voice. And, man, what a voice it is! She’s one of the few ladies on the planet who delivers her tunes in full-on baritone or bass as she sings from the bottom of her soul.
A childhood drummer and sousaphone player, Alexis fell in love with the blues the first time she heard it at nine years old. When she and her parents were vacationing in New Orleans, she literally barged in on a rehearsal by the Mills Brothers, the quartet known as the Four Kings Of Harmony, a group that sold more than 50 million copies of the 2,000 recordings released in a 54-year career. Harry Mills, the lead singer, was so taken by her sense of wonder that he invited the family to the group’s concert that night, and the rest is history.
Suter sang in choirs and at small clubs in her youth before emerging as a recording artist in the house/dance realm in 1990, beginning a long relationship with Hipbone Records, a leader in the field, which continues today. She transitioned to soul and rock-tinged blues in 2005 with the release Shuga Fix on the Hipbone imprint. All For Loving You is her second release on American Showplace. She’s joined here by her regular band: guitarist Jimmy Bennett, drummer Ray Grappone, bassist Peter Bennett and backup vocalist Vicki Bell, who’s also a principal in the Hipbone organization. Contributing to the mix is keyboard player John Ginty, who, like Alexis, is a regular nominee for honors in the blues.
Ben Elliott produced, mastered and mixed the CD. Three of the 10 originals here were written by Suter with the balance of the songs were written by Jimmy Bennett and Peter Bennett and Bell, who co-wrote two and contributed another. The end result is an in-your-face collection of new tunes that deliver a powerful message while having you up and dancing, too. The album fires out of the starting gate with a howl before Alexis launches into her need for introspection in “Talk To Myself,” delivered atop a steady, strong medium-paced shuffle. Next up, “Can’t Find A Reason” questions why a relationship that ended in tears ever started to begin with.
“Another Place And Time” is a slow blues with gospel overtones that features Jimmy’s guitar in a lengthy introduction. It speaks to the inability to say goodbye to someone who might have been the perfect mate in a different situation. “All For Loving You” follows with images of wealth, prosperity and peace as a comparison to the depths of emotion felt for the object of the singer’s affection.
Jimmy comes to the fore again to kick off the medium-fast straight-ahead blues shuffle “Livin’ In A World,” which questions why a lover’s rejecting Alexis’ affection. The pace slows dramatically for the ballad “Fool For You,” about being unable to split from a relationship even though warned by friends, before the band gets funky for “Don’t Ya’ Tell,” in which Suter insists: “Five o’clock in the mornin’/Five minutes to spare/Don’tcha tell nobody/That you saw Big Mama here!”
The rhythm section propels the rocker “So Long,” a complaint about being driven crazy by a desire to “get back over you” before the optimistic “Circumstance” addresses living within one’s means despite being victimized. The final original, “Every Shut Eye,” about overhearing a cheating man talking on the phone, precedes a cover of the Beatles’ “Let It Be,” which concludes the set.
Available through Amazon, iTunes and other retailers, All For Loving You is a rock-solid production from beginning to end and a worthy addition to your collection if your tastes run to contemporary blues, and Alexis’ seemingly rough-hewn vocals are as sweet as they are strong.