Laura Cheadle – Where the Blues Hangs Out | Album Review

lauracheadledLaura Cheadle  – Where the Blues Hangs Out

BloozyToonz Records

CD: 13 Songs; 57:41 Minutes

Styles: Piano Blues and Ballads, Soul-Influenced Blues

As the nursery rhyme states, what are girls made of? “Sugar and spice and everything nice.” Contrast Mother Goose with horror god Stephen King, who characterized the blues as “mean music” in his 2014 novel Revival. Female blues vocalists typically fall into either the “sugar” camp (e.g. Dani Wilde and Claudia Carawan) or the “spice” camp (e.g. Janis Joplin, Etta James, and Nina Simone). The best chanteuses in this genre run the gamut of both, switching with ease, even within the same song. At one moment, they croon with unrequited love, and at the next, they wail in agony. It’s a daunting feat to accomplish. Only a handful can pull it off perfectly. New Jersey’s Laura Cheadle tries her best on Where the Blues Hangs Out, but she’s almost all sugar. On thirteen songs, ten originals and three covers, she warbles like a lark on mellow blues. The few times she does wail, a la Joplin, her pitch might be too high for some folks’ ears. Laura’s music is more suited for the piano bar than the traditional brash blues bars.

With her as she performs lead vocals and guitar, are several members of her family: co-songwriter and father J.S. Cheadle on piano, organ, guitar, drums, bass and background vocals, brother Jim Lee Cheadle on electric guitar, and mother Sue Cheadle on background vocals. Also along for this low-key and relaxing ride are drummer B.W. Smith, background vocalists Madi Hart and Maddie Brewer, Mikey Jr. and Steve Guyger on harp, Bobby Michaels on saxophone, and Jeff “Blondie” Van Stenz on trumpet.

According to her website, “Laura Cheadle Family Blues Band have many accomplishments under their belt opening for: The Jonas Brothers, Sister Hazel, Spin Doctors, Ryan Cabrera, Kasim Sulton, Terrence Simien, Garland Jeffreys, John Oates/Hall and Oates, Average White Band, Clarence Clemons III for Bruce Springsteen’s After Party and Constantine Maraoulis of American Idol. These South Jersey Natives and current Philadelphia residents have toured nationally and internationally everywhere from the East Coast/West Coast to London. The Cheadle’s have appeared on 6ABC’s Tuned In as the very first viewers’ choice, The NBC 10 Show, the national reality show ‘Next Great Family Band” on NBC/Cosi TV. Laura Cheadle was named a “Super Woman” in South Jersey Magazine for her active charity work. A very recent accomplishment: Laura Cheadle Family Blues Band just recently won “Best Indie Jazz/Blues Band of The Year” 2014 at Tri State Indie Music Awards sponsored by WXPN.”

Laura’s artistic style is warm and good natured, but for heart-pumping, beer-drinking blues, listeners may look elsewhere. Perhaps next time, she and her family will try a darker tone and sharper edge, especially when they play covers such as “Stormy Monday” (featured on this album). Her voice is as sweet as candy, but if it were more like Red Hots instead of Pixy Stix, it might suit more people’s taste.

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