Dana Fuchs – Love Lives On
13 songs – 51 minutes
Dana Fuchs’ new album, Love Lives On, her seventh since her 2003 debut, was recorded in just 11 days at Music & Arts, Ward Archer Studios in Memphis, and the spirit of region seeps through each of the 13 tracks on the album.
Opening with the roaring blues-rock of “Backstreet Baby”, Fuchs’ raw, raucous voice has hints of Janis Joplin and Kim Carnes, but is resolutely her own, as demonstrated by the nifty shift to Memphis soul in the next two songs, with Otis Redding’s “Nobody’s Fault But Mine”, which is given a modern polish while still retaining the power and passion of the original, and “Callin’ Angels”, an original track written by Fuchs and guitarist, Jon Diamond, which sounds for all the world like a classic Stax song from the 1960s.
Fuchs and Diamond co-wrote seven songs on the album and wrote four others in conjunction with Scott Sherrard. There are also two well-chosen covers to round out the release. The songs run the gamut of modern blues, blues-rock and soul. The pop-soul of “Sittin’ On” features some lovely organ from the Reverend Charles Hodges. The title track displays an Otis Redding influence with its opening arpeggio chord pattern being reminiscent of “I’ve Got Dreams To Remember”. “Fight My Way” and “Battle Lines” both contain heavy hints of country. “Sad Solution” has an irresistible funk-rock flavour, while the minor key “Sedative” has a modern blues structure. The upbeat blues shuffle of “Same Sunlight”, like a number of other tracks, benefits from powerful horn punches.
Fuchs’ band is top class. In addition to Diamond on guitars and harmonica, she has a rock solid rhythm section in bassist Jack Daley and drummer Steve Potts. The Reverend Charles Hodges is on organ, while Glen Patscha adds piano and Wurlitzer. Kirk Smothers and Marc Franklin are a killer horn section. Eric Lewis contributes pedal steel, lap steel and mandolin and Felix Hernandez plays congas. Backing vocals are courtesy of Reba Russell and Susan Marshall.
Above it all is Fuchs’ voice, which is a seriously impressive instrument. Equally happy on the rock of “Ready To Rise” or the gentle acoustic “Fight My Way”, Fuchs fully inhabits the songs she sings, delivering the predominantly optimistic lyrics with a real sense of emotional connection.
The final song on Love Lives On is the second cover version and also one of the emotional highlights of the album. Johnny Cash’s “Ring Of Fire” is stripped back to its purest essence, with lightly strummed acoustic guitar, floating pedal steel guitar, taunt drums and bass and aching vocals. Fuchs’ interpretation really brings home just what a beautiful love song “Ring Of Fire” actually is.
There are tangible benefits in recording an album in just 11 days. There is an electricity and vibrancy to the performances that has been superbly captured by producer/engineer, Kevin Houston. Love Lives On is a riveting slice of modern blues-rock-soul. Great work.