Brigitte Purdy – Still I Rise
10 tracks | 36 minutes
Brigitte Purdy defies easy vocal categorization. It is the real blues she goes after and she succeeds mightily. On closer inspection her powerful instrument has a palate of colors to choose from, absolute tonal accuracy and precise control. Brigitte has an unusually vast combination of attributes for an unbridled belter of the blues. She has Dorothy Chandler Conservatory training and has worked with Hal Davis of Motown fame. Her musical style does on occasion lean towards Motown, even evoking the artistry, delicacy and phrasing of Diana Ross. Comparing Brigitte to other singers is unnecessary as her voice speaks for itself but touchstones abound nevertheless. She simply has what it takes. Some proof was being selected as a backup singer for master rock vocalist, Paul Rodgers, on his Jimi Hendrix /Muddy Waters tour. His standards are as high as the notes Brigitte solidly hits.
Still I Rise is an extremely coherent album front to back due to her collaboration with the albums’ producer, outstanding musician and always tasteful, Dave Osti, (drums, bass, guitar) along with Drake Shining (All Keyboards and Hammond B3). The basic tracks were recorded at Loveless Motel Studios by Billy Burke and those two Dave and Drake make quite a three-piece and additional guest appearances pop up throughout the seamless sequence.
The harp men are especially worth noting: Kenny Neal plays a down home blow your face off harp solo on opener “Hoodoo” and Michael Fell doing his back porch harp thing on the bring the house down blues rocker “My Kinda Blues” wraps up his solid work with a harp riff ending.
Brigitte (pronounced Bridget) gets the lyrics just right too, she’s “…got a whole mess of blues…so if you want my love you better like my kind of blues.” Osti’s versatile guitar riffs are on fire on this track with three different sounding leads in one interlude. The first is a dry swinging Chuck Berry rock lead verse followed by solid sustained note riffing mainstream rock turn and the third round ending on a double lead guitar well-suited for classic rock radio. “Last Time” is a soulful and gospel inspired and Brigitte delivers an outstanding performance. The song is a bit like Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” but not much to her discredit as her soaring vocals are fully into the feeling and once again she peaks at the right moment showing off her virtuosity in a stylistic and familiar setting. “It takes a better man to keep me home.”
Other standouts are the Fleetwood Mac meets Etta James “Get It Understood”. It’s a sneaky tune starting out soft and building up to a satisfying climax. The funky envelope-filtered guitar solo and the mounting fury of the B3 church organ with the electric piano grooving throughout underneath is a perfect mix. Brigitte’s chorus is a layer cake of emotion that rises to the logical peak at the end. The next song “If I Could” is reminiscent of Dionne Warwick’s soothing vocal sensitivity but grinds along with Gwen McCrae “Rocking Chair” sexiness and some banter at the end reminding the listener who is doing the singing here. The next track “Lucille Don’t You Weep”, yes, that Lucille, is a classic blues stunner about the most intimate of inanimate objects: B.B. King’s guitar. If Marvin Gaye’s “Trouble Man” is a favorite then this bluesier take on the theme will please. Again the lead guitar does the music so much justice.
There is a hit here too “Blues Angel” with award-winning and chart-topping songwriter, Donnell Spencer Jr.on drums giving it a neo-soul / 70’s AM fusion (Pablo Cruise) / 80’s (Brand New Heavies/Lisa Stansfield) yet it is an entirely indefinable sound which never gets old. This song showcases Brigitte’s voice so perfectly as to defy any direct comparison although Olivia Newton-John comes to mind along with Chaka Kahn and add a dash of Minnie Riperton.
The song takes the listener away and brings many images to mind. The comfort the song brings is memorable in a sing-it-in-your-head but not in a get-sick-of-it sticky way. “Like a blues angel rescue me from the twilight.” The closer is the titular track, a torch song obviously close to her heart. Not quite in step with the rest of the list but the message she conveys in lyric and vocal acrobatics is an important one. She seems to be singing to help make this world a better and more livable place for her and the listener. If she can rise so can you. “Too many words too many lies…Still I Rise…Out of control without any soul.”
Brigitte has so much soul to give and along with her voice with so many facets it’s like a fine cut diamond. This is a new artist to watch and to look forward to seeing live.