Laura Rain and the Caesars – Closer | Album Review

lauraraincdLaura Rain and the Caesars – Closer

Self-produced CD

11 songs – 48 minutes

One glance at the lovely, intense goddess peering majestically from the cover of this CD will tell you that Laura Rain and the Caesars, her tight three-piece ensemble from Detriot, mean business. From the first note, they don’t disappoint as they deliver some of the finest soul blues rolling out of Motor City in years.

A powerful vocalist who’s split her time between Michigan and Los Angeles during the past decade, Laura possesses an electrifying vocal range that might remind some listeners of an early Aretha Franklin. She and guitarist George Friend, who’s spent time with Janiva Magness, the Soul Messengers and rockabilly legend Robert Gordon, composed all of the material you’ll hear here with one foot squarely in the ‘60s or ‘70s, the golden age of American R&B.

Billing themselves as a retro soul band with one previous disc to their credit, they’re joined by keyboardist/bass player Phil Hale, a veteran of Martha Reeves’ and George Clinton’s bands, and percussionist Ron Pangborn for this ultra-tight red-hot set. They’re aided by several guest artists, including: Rick Beamon, Todd Glass and Terry Thunder (drums), Sheila Hale (tambourine), Jim Simonson and Leon Powell (bass), Duncan McMillan (organ), Johnny Evans (saxophone) and John Douglas (trumpet).

Available through Amazon, CDBaby and the band’s website, the album kicks off with, “Seasons,” a little bit of funk sure to get you out of your chair and on to the dance floor. Laura’s range is evident as she alternates lines from sultry alto to searing soprano. Friend’s bluesy guitar solo gives the tune added depth. The silky title tune, “Closer,” is delivered with a Memphis feel. It’s a song of burning sexual desire. “Squawkin’” is a straight-ahead blues about so-called friends who want to see you fail in your life’s pursuits.

Next up, “All Of Me” is a lover’s complaint about being used, while “Meet Me In The Middle” follows with a request to find some common ground. The mood slows for “Your Love Is Not Broken” as Laura stretches out to reassure a lover that the flame they share still burns brightly despite things not going his way. “Dirty Man” is a burner in which the singer wonders about rumors her guy’s cheating. Laura answers the question next in “He Is.” The funky “Super Duper Love” tells the tale of a man who possesses plenty of women, but “will never have me.” Two more songs of romance follow: In “Awful Sin,” Laura gives in to a lover against her best judgment; and she proclaims “My Heart Is Open” in a sugar sweet ballad that concludes the set.

If you favor old-style R&B flavored blues, you’ll definitely like this one. While the theme of the material may seem familiar, the songs are all tasty and the band top notch.

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