Sister Lucille – Alive | Album Review

Sister Lucille – Alive

Endless Blues Records

CD: 11 Songs, 50 Minutes

Styles: Soul-Influenced Blues, Funk, R&B, Debut Album

Alive, the initial public offering (ha) from Sister Lucille of southwest Missouri, is three words that start with S: smooth, subtle, sensual. This collection of funk, R&B, and soul-influenced blues is not only a cut above the rest. Sister Lucille (real name Kimberly Dill) and her posse know they don’t have to be in-your-face loud in order to make an impact. Their music goes on like a high-quality lotion, sinking deep into your pores without being too slick. For a debut album, this one’s a surefire winner. It’s what you’d expect from semifinalists at the 2015 International Blues Challenge. Ms. Wetnight has never seen them live, but in their videos as well as straight audio, they radiate an appealing presence. They’re like the neighborhood friends you can count on to be a bit wild. Bonfire blues roars here as well as beautiful ballads. Out of these eleven songs, nine are outstanding originals, and two are commendable covers (Don Bryant’s “99 Pounds” and Etta James’ “W-O-M-A-N”). Each track is excellent in its own way.

With much of their inspiration coming from their “musician family” in Memphis, this band is well-oriented in the quadrants of blues, soul, funk and R&B. After twenty years on stage together, Kimberly Dill’s heartfelt vocals and Jamie Holdren’s tasteful guitar riffs are sure to turn heads. Along with their IBC credentials, Sister Lucille was voted “Most Promising New Artist” at the 31st Music Pioneer Awards in Memphis for 2016. Kimberly started her music career singing country/western in the early ‘90s. She performed at both the Ryman Auditorium and the Grand Ole Opry, opening for legendary musicians Kitty Wells and Jack Green. Jamie Holdren got his first guitar at age six and started his music career in his early teens. He played with several successful local bands and always loved to write his own music. Rounding out the quartet are Eric Guinn on bass guitar and Kevin Lyons on drums. Eric is a skilled guitarist and vocalist who has played with many ensembles and toured all over the Midwest. Kevin is a versatile drummer with a BA in music performance from the University of Buffalo.

Special guests include Reba Russell on background vocals; Mark Muleman Massey on vocals for track ten; Peter Climie on tenor and baritone sax; Jared Dover on trumpet; Andrew Earle on trombone; Chris Stephenson on Hammond B organ and keyboard; Jim Scott on tambourine and guiro, and Eric Hughes on harmonica for track seven.

Remember En Vogue, the Funky Divas from the ‘90s who had the hit song “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)”? “Won’t Give It” is the 2010’s blues version. It’s hotter than blue blazes, and the harmony is terrific. So are the complementary horn section and guitar. What the heck: Let’s just say everything about this song is great. It’s destined to be a hit single on Bluesville. Hence, the title track is slightly overshadowed, but not by much. With funky wah-wah pedal and searing torch-singer vocals, “Alive” is perfect for a spin on the dancefloor with one’s partner. “See My Baby” provides industrial-strength grit, inspiring audiences to stomp along to the beat. Too Slim and the Taildraggers would be proud. Later on, “Respect Your Woman” and “Fussin’ and Fightin’” provide traditional vibes that’ll put a jolt in everyone’s spine. “Lost,” the closer, is heavy-handed on the lyrics, but its message resounds all the same.

Sister Lucille sure knows how to keep the blues Alive!

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