Michele D’Amour and the Love Dealers – Heart of Memphis
Blues Kitty Records
CD: 8 Songs, 34:22 Minutes
Styles: Ensemble Blues, Memphis Blues, Jazz
“There are the places we grew up and the places we call home; and there are other places that feel like home the first time we visit and draw us back again. Here’s to Memphis, which instantly felt like home for the band and where much of this CD was recorded.” So elegizes the leading lady of Michele D’Amour and the Love Dealers on their new album, Heart of Memphis. Although based in Seattle, this dynamic ensemble found an instant kinship with the home of “Memphis Soul Stew” (number eight, and this release’s sole cover). The title track pays obvious homage to it, but the spirit of the city shines through on every song. Speaking of singing, the one thing Michele’s vocals have in spades might be called “grit,” edge,” or “worldliness.” No dulcet tones issue forth from her throat, but the smooth and seamless instrumentation more than makes up for this minus. It’s some of the best big band blues/jazz that yours truly has heard this year.
She’s not the only one who admires it, either. The band has earned countless accolades and awards, including “Best Blues Band” from LA Music Critic in 2019, rotation on STEAM Magazine Radio in April 2015, a Grand Prize in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest for their tune “Trouble” in 2017, and three silver medals from the Global Music Awards in June 2019. As for Michele herself, she penned her first song at the age of six and became a published poet in her early twenties. In fact, she’s called “the poetess of the blues,” and it shows in her lyrics.
Joining D’Amour (lead and backing vocals) are the Love Dealers: Patrick McDanel on bass, Jeff Cornell on guitar, Dave Delzotto on drums, Brian Olendorf on keyboards, and Noel Barnes on tenor sax. Special guests include Rae Gordon, Sheila Kelly and Kristi Miller on backing vocals, Greg Lyons on trumpet and Greg Schroeder on trombone.
The ballad below is a slow burner, one of the most traditional-sounding of the eight songs here.
Track 02: “Dirty Pool” – With a beat and guitar refrain that are catchier than a cold, number two is terrific. “I thought we were a team, believed you had my back,” our narrator laments, “but you were playing with some cards that weren’t in the dealer’s deck.” Bit of a mixed metaphor in regards to the title, but there’s no doubt “Dirty Pool” is no “scratch” of a song.
In the mood for a short, sweet CD with a razor-sharp edge? Take a trip to the Heart of Memphis!