Lara & The Bluz Dawgz – Howlin’
Lock Alley Music – 2015
12 tracks; 47 minutes
In 2013 I had the pleasure of reviewing the debut CD from this band and two years on their second CD is even better. The band comes from Nashville and consists of Lara Germony on vocals, husband Gregg on bass, Al Rowe on guitar, Dan Nadasdi on keys, Reggie Murray on sax and Ray Gonzales on drums. Everything you hear was written and played by the band members, the trio of the Germonys and Al Rowe writing most of the material with some help from Dan on four cuts and a little outside help on two songs from Chris Buck, a Nashville based songwriter and drummer.
Lara’s voice is clear and flexible and leads the band well on opener “Uh Huh” with rocking piano and guitar, Reggie’s sax adding some nice accents. “Flat Line” follows with some great sax and guitar throughout, an early highlight. That is followed by some striking guitar work on the gorgeous ballad “I Wonder” in which Lara pours her heart out as she yearns to get close to a guy who does not seem to know she exists: “Tell me how this happened though we’ve never met. You captivate my very soul, won’t let my heart forget. So I will watch you, as I wonder…” Reggie catches the mood of angst in his work on the outro. “Wearin’ Me Out” features Dan’s piano on an uptempo rocker, a song in which Lara expresses her relief that her guy is walking out, as she is fed up with the relationship! “T-Dawg” sounds like it should be a Texan instrumental but turns out to be another fine ballad with solo features from Al and Reggie whose smouldering sax is great here. “Don’t Mess With My Baby” has a smooth vocal from Lara on a soulful tune with a catchy refrain featuring a fine guitar solo.
The band adds some jazzy overtones to the smooth grooves of “Love Me Tonight” courtesy of Dan’s electric piano work and Reggie’s laid back sax and some slinky guitar work from Al, another good track. “I’m Over It” is driven by the rhythm section and some funky piano work and a muscular sax solo from Reggie while “Say Goodbye” is a churning R n’ B ballad with Reggie’s sax at Lara’s side as she emotes about her emotional loss. The band add some New Orleans influences (Reggie comes from NO) on “Love Of Mine” before “Shadow Groovin’” does what the title suggests by placing Lara’s vocals in front of some moody sax and an arrangement that borders on smooth jazz. The CD closes with the title track “Howlin’” on which Al’s slide and Dan’s piano work initially make you think Little Feat before Reggie’s sax arrives to take us back to NO, the rhythm section playing some great stuff in support, a fine way to end the CD.
As with their first CD you have to take your hat off to this band for having the confidence to offer an entirely original set of tunes. What is more they have written several great songs here, the whole being well recorded and produced. Definitely one worth readers’ attention.