Lil’ Red & The Rooster – Keep On! | Album Review

Lil’ Red & The Rooster – Keep On!

Blue Heart Records

11 songs time – 42:12

Lil’ Red & The Rooster embody what they call a “Retro Modern Blues Sound” on this their second release. Lil’ Red(Jennifer Milligan) and The Rooster(Pacal Fouquet) deliver the goods in a fresh and energetic manner. Lil’ Red handles the vocals, rhythm guitar and washboard. The Rooster supplies electric and acoustic guitar and Gitjo. They handpicked a superior rhythm section for this project-Kenny “Beedyeyes” Smith on drums and Felton Crews on bass. Also present are sax man Jean-Marc Labbe and various background vocalists. Lil’ Red and The Rooster wrote all songs except one traditional tune.

This CD starts life with a cool funky groove as the guitar and sax are in lockstep to create a catchy as all hell vibe on “Cool Trap Boogie” that seems to be about a club. Here as elsewhere, Lil’ Red’s vocals are sassy and fresh. The Rooster plays his axe like he hails from Chicago rather than France. The sax is all sexy in “Whiskey Sip Of Time”. “Take this weight off my shoulders, breathe a brand new world”.

Billy Branch, a harmonica wizard and great singer as well, duets on “Keep On Lovin’ You” with his way cool delivery. The Rooster contributes some jazzy acoustic guitar on this one. The theme of “Love The Hell Right Out Of Ya” is about chasing evil and the devil’s influence out of someone. Jeff Morrow adds an extra voice. Lil’ Red breaks into some scat singing near the song’s end.

Two instrumentals are featured. “Shakin’ Em Up” is an instrumental save for Red’s occasional cool exclamations of “shakin’ em up”. The song maintains a hipster vibe groove with dreamy electric guitar and funky sax. “Step It Up”, the closer, is an aggressive guitar driven blues-meets-jazz instrumental underpinned by a strong bass line courtesy of the amazing Felton Crews.

Jeff Morrow helps out on backing vocals on the traditional “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” that pushed along by for a lack of better words, snappy guitar. The sax returns for the Rosa Parks saga “Back Of The Bus”. A Howlin’ Wolf inspired guitar groove propels the political, patriotic and anti-racism themed “American Made”. “Little Girl” speaks to the empowerment of woman.

Fear not, great music still peeks out from time to time to counteract the effects of the mainly subpar mainstream music that has poisoned our airwaves. It is here in the form of Lil’ Red & The Rooster plus cohorts. Their music embodies the blues tempered by jazz, funk, R&B and God knows what else, while employing top notch musicianship, lyricism and buoyant energy. The subjects range from the frivolous to the profound. A musical fun fest awaits you the lucky listener.

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