Mills Bluz Records
12 songs – 53 minutes
Singer/guitarist Lisa Mills fuses blues, roots, gospel and country into a powerful package in this CD, which is a back-to-the-future trip to the past.
A Mississippi native who now calls Mobile, Ala., home, Mills initially released the tunes on an album of the same name in 2005, but recently reworked the package, re-recording and completely reconstructing it with the aid of producer Trina Shoemaker, the first woman ever to earn a Grammy for album engineering, along with an all-star lineup of sidemen.
A truly soulful vocalist who for a time successfully stepped into Janis Joplin’s shoes to front a modern-day version of Pearl’s Big Brother & The Holding Company, Lisa’s aided here by Wet Willie guitarist Rick Hirsch and drummer T.K. Lively, Black Oak Arkansas and Bo Diddley guitarist Corky Hughes and Ian Jennings, who’s been recognized by one blues magazine as the best bass player in the United Kingdom and who’s worked with Van Morrison, Jimmy Paige, Robert Plant, Jeff Beck and Tom Jones. Also contributing to the mix are Jimmy Roebuck (upright bass), John Milham (drums), Britt Meacham (lead guitar) and Pat Murphy (fiddle and banjo).
Like Joplin, Mills possesses a dynamic vocal range, capable of blowing the doors off in one breath and then captivating the audience in barely a whisper the next as she delivers what only can be described as blue-eyed soul, a perfect mix of Muscle Shoals and Memphis atop a Nashville feel. Not counting the previous release of this material, this is the fourth CD in her arsenal and the follow-up to 2010’s critically acclaimed Tempered In Fire. She’s penned 10 of the 12 tunes here, with covers from the catalogs of Jimi Hendrix and the Rev. Robert Wilkins.
Mills kicks off the disc with simple guitar progression for the sultry “Better Than This/I Don’t Need You Anymore,” a plea for a lover to leave because he’s a cheat who simply won’t be missed. It leads perfectly into “I Don’t Want To Be Happy,” which carries forward with the verse: “I just wanna be with you.” The theme continues in a brighter fashion with “I Need A Little Sunshine” before “I’m Changing,” a love song in which the vocalist is growing, but the object of her affection remains the same.
“Eyes So Blue” relies on a reggae beat to convey the memory of a romantic encounter in a field of flowers. The disc takes a rhythmic and melismic turn for “Shake It” as Lisa recounts the feeling that she and a lover “just won’t make it” before a straight-up gospel pairing of the Mills original “Tell Me” with a cover of Wilkins’“I Wish I Was In Heaven Sitting Down,” accompanied only by bottleneck resonator guitar. Three more originals — “Rain In The Summertime,”“Take My Troubles” and “The Truth” – follow before a burning, six-minute version of Hendrix’s “Little Wing” conclude the album.
Available from Amazon and iTunes or directly from the artist’s website, I’m Changing will definitely sing to you if you like Beale Street with a hint of Music Row.