Misty Blues – Silver Lining | Album Review

Misty Blues – Silver Lining

Guitar One Records


11 songs – 43 minutes

A classy and sassy horn band based out of the northwest corner of Massachusetts, Misty Blues have been dazzling audiences their own special brand of horn-drenched, jazz-tinged music for the past 25 years. And they celebrate both their longevity and success with this dynamic set, which is guaranteed to grab you from the opening notes.

The group is led by the powerful and dynamic Gina Coleman, a smoky alto who doubles on cigar-box guitar when not serving as the associate admissions director at Williams College in bucolic Williamstown, where the band’s based. And two of her bandmates are involved in teaching in one way or another, too.

A group of seasoned professionals, multi-instrumentalist Rob Tatten handles drums, trumpet and trombone while serving as a music educator in the Pittsfield, Mass., school system while Aaron Dean, the saxophonist, is a school superintendent who plays frequently with several of the top jazz players in the Northeast.

They’re joined by bassist/trumpet player Bill Patriquin, a Navy veteran and who’s worked in bands around the globe, Seth Fleischmann, a guitarist with degrees in performance and audio engineering, and Diego Mongue, Gina’s son, who handles drums, bass, guitar and pedal steel. A recording artist in his own right despite still being a Williams student, he and the Diego Mongue Band made it to the semi-finals of the 2024 International Blues Challenge.

Early Times sits in on guitar for one tune and keyboard player Matt Casson appears on another. They’re augmented by keyboard players Joel Nicholas and David Vittone, guitarists Cameron Bencivenga and Chase Bradshaw, harp player Ed Moran, trumpet player Jeff Stevens, percussionist Three Trees and vocalists Chantell McFarland, Wendy Lipp, Matt Mervis, Rebecca Mattson and Kathy Ryan.

An autobiographical effort that includes lush arrangements and deep lyrics, this disc will strike home for anyone who’s experienced the ups and downs of a lifetime of work, whether it’s on the job or on stage. “Seduction by Blues” takes listeners back to the root with a solitary, minor-key harp line before Gina joins in for a hypnotic opener as the tension builds. Then the full band joins in to finish the number instrumentally and elevates the pressure even more.

The mood brightens with the percussive “Silver Lining,” which features Early Times and deals with suggestions that things aren’t that bad even though Coleman relates a laundry list of troubles. “You can keep that silver lining to someone else,” she says. “I don’t want to hear your pearls of wisdom. Keep it to yourself!” An extended, fiery guitar and horn solo drives the message home. Drums and keys open “The Upper Hand” as Gina complains about the way she’s been treated after giving a friend shelter from his/her storm before the spirited “Shake These Blues” makes everything upbeat even though it speaks deals with recovery from a broken love affair.

The minor-key “Sofrito My Blues” opens quietly to follow but quickly picks up intensity as it describes trouble amidst the joy at a Latin market before yielding to a true-blue pleaser in the compelling “Enough Lovin’ for Two,” which gives the band a chance to work out atop a steady, propulsive beat. Up next, the introspective and haunting “How Will I” finds Coleman lost in the middle of nowhere and wondering how she’ll find her path to get out as her bandmates keep the tension high while giving her the space to let her voice fly. Resolution comes in “That’s My Cross,” which admits more of life’s blunders atop with a positive spin.

The next number, “Nothing in Vain,” is subtitled “Steve Beastie’s song” and dedicated to the deejay from Britain’s Voodoo Radio Online. An ardent supporter and friend of Misty Blues, he lost his life after a battle with cancer last winter only a few months after seeing the band in person. Containing an unmistakable gospel element, the tune celebrates him in the best way possible, noting: “These blues are here to sustain you, these blues cast off the pain…”

Fear not, though! Joy abounds in the jazz-infuses “Chasing Gold,” which sings about the futility of chasing fortune and fame and accepting what you’ve got. Cusson’s featured on a stellar mid-tune solo and the horns are high in the mix throughout. The disc concludes with “Blues Never Ends,” a number that mirrors the opening and includes participation from Diego’s full band.

Misty Blues is one of the most consistent, unique groups on the scene today, and this album shines throughout. If you’re tired of “the same old blues,” this one’s like a breath of fresh air!

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