Patti Parks – Whole Nother World
Booga Music/VizzTone Records – 2021
8 tracks; 29 minutes
Patti Parks is a vocalist from Western New York state. Patti manages to combine her music with a career in nursing and has also founded Nurs’ N Blues, an education program to help at risk children at drug rehabilitation centers. She released her debut album in 2013 and was spotted by Kenny Neal at the IBC’s, whereupon Kenny brought her down to Baton Rouge and recorded this album with her. Patti handles lead vocals, Kenny duets with Patti on one track and plays harp and guitar throughout. The rest of the musicians are Carlton Ross on rhythm guitar, Brandon Adams on keys, Arlando O’Connor on bass and Michael Harris on drums; Frederick Neal plays keys on one cut, Jason Parfait sax on one and Guy Nirelli organ on two. The material consists of five songs written by Kenny and/or the late Bob Greenlee (King Snake Records), plus three covers.
Opener “I’m Trouble” features three keyboard players (organ, piano and horn effects) as Patti introduces her bubbly personality and asks if we would “like to get into trouble with me”. That short, upbeat cut is followed by “More Than You’ll Ever Know”, a song credited to Greenlee, Neal and Erica Guerin but bearing quite a lot of similarity to Al Kooper’s song of similar title which was such a success for Blood, Sweat & Tears back in the day. Patti’s resists the temptation to go over the top vocally on James Brown’s “It’s A Man’s Man’s World”, a mistake some others have made in covering the song, and Kenny plays some nicely restrained lead lines to add to the quality of the cover
“Baby Bee” was recorded by Kenny and Billy Branch and was featured on the soundtrack of a 1996 movie called Heaven’s Prisoners. This acoustic version is well done and features Kenny on harp and vocals, his deeper voice fitting well with Patti’s. Two Greenlee songs follow: the fast-paced “Stickin’ To My Guns” again features Kenny’s harp while “Don’t Play Me Cheap” is a big ballad with saxophone coming in over the lush organ and piano work; Patti’s voice works particularly well on this one, just the right amount of vibrato to carry it off. Guy Nirelli and Kenny wrote “I Can’t Think” (though, strangely, it is not one of the tracks on which Guy plays), another uptempo tune with a funky bassline and more synth horns. To close this short album Patti and Kenny have opted for a more contemporary cover, “No Means No”, written by Terry Abrahamson and Derrick Procell. It’s a strong song for a female lead and would suit a singer like Shemekia Copeland but Patti sings it extremely well and it was, for this reviewer, the best track on the album.
At 29 minutes this is rather short for a CD but there are no poor tracks and Patti sings well throughout.