Diane Durrett – Soul Suga | Album Review

dianedurrettcdDiane Durrett  – Soul Suga

Self-Release – 2014

11 tracks; 48 minutes


This is a CD produced across several sessions in Atlanta, GA, and features a large cast of musicians, including several well-known players from the Atlanta scene: the core players are Yonrico Scott (Royal Southern Brotherhood/Derek Trucks) who plays drums on most tracks and provided the CD artwork; Melissa ‘Junebug’ Massey replaces Yonrico on two tracks as well as providing percussion on four cuts; Ted Pecchio (Susan Tedeschi) is on bass but Charlie Wootton (also RSB), Chris Price and Gregg Shapiro fill in on four tracks.  Keyboard players include Yoel B’nai Yehuda, Brandon Bush, Ike Stubblefield and Eric Frampton; guitarists include Tinsley Ellis and Oliver Wood guesting alongside Markham White.  There are also horns on four tracks: Randall Bramblett, John Maret and Daryl Dunn on sax, Mike Bowles trumpet, Dub Hudson clarinet, Lil’ Joe Burton and Jonathan Lloyd trombone.  Backing vocals come from Adam McKnight, Caroline Aiken, Deborah Reece, Peggy Johnson Still and The Sassy Singers.  Star of the show though is Diane Durrett whose lead vocals are excellent throughout and who contributes guitar and piano as well as writing all the material apart from one cover.

There is no straight blues here but the material ranges across several styles, notably soul and funk, even a hint of jazz in parts.  In opener “Show Up Sexy” Diane is pretty convincing in the role of sexy seductress while the horn arrangement lifts “Butter’s In The Skillet” beyond its core funk style.  The next two songs show a quite different side to Diane’s writing with “All Is Well” tugging the heart strings as Diane recalls her late grandmother in a memorable and touching song which is closely matched lyrically with “Be Somebody’s Angel”, another fine ballad enhanced by Randall Bramblett’s rousing sax accompaniment.

The next few cuts take us back to the dance floor: “Push The Push Back” does not have much by way of lyrics but the catchy tune is graced by Kathie Holmes’ ethereal flute which works very well with the rhythm section and Yoel’s piano; “Let Go And Let Groove” sounds like a title from the era of flower power and does have some of that feel, alongside an Earth Wind & Fire groove.  “Sassy Larue” tells the tale of a female singer who is claimed as the origin of the phrase “it ain’t over till the fat lady sings” with a tune that sounds like “Turn On Your Lovelight” blended with the spirit of New Orleans, the horns featuring with wild clarinet, trumpet and trombone alongside Oliver Wood’s guitar and Charlie Wootton’s NO bass.  “Woohoo” might have resulted in a ‘Parental Advisory’ notice if the message behind the lyrics had been appreciated!

Diane returns to more serious issues on the stately piano-led ballad “I Know Your Nothings” in which her suspicions that “your nothings mean something” are proved correct in her guy’s behaviour.  Things cheer up considerably with the optimistic “Bright Side” which has a fine horn arrangement and Diane’s convincing vocal, both in Stax style.  The sole cover is a fairly straight reading of The Beatles’ oft-covered “Let It Be”; Diane handles the familiar lyrics well and the icing on the cake is Randall’s outstanding sax solo – a fine way to close the album.

Whilst this is far from a blues album there is plenty to enjoy from a lady with a strong voice across several styles.  Worth investigating if your tastes run to the soul side of things.

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