Toots Lorraine – Make It Easy | Album Review

tootslorrainecdToots Lorraine – Make It Easy

Greaseland Records – 2014

12 tracks; 57 minutes

Toots Lorraine and her band The Traffic come from the Jacksonville, Florida area where they specialise in vintage blues and rhythm and blues, certainly making a positive impression on this reviewer at the Springing The Blues festival in April. However, this CD is credited to Toots alone and only she and her husband/guitarist Chad Dant appear, the other musicians being all first call players on the West coast where the CD was co-produced by Chad and Kid Andersen at his Greaseland studios. We have Mike Phillips on bass, June Core on drums, Lorenzo Farrell (Kid’s fellow Nightcat) on keys, Aki Kumar on harp, Chad on guitar under the tag ‘Chad Mo’, with Kid filling in occasional parts on guitar, bass and piano. Toots and Chad wrote seven of the songs with the five covers coming from Willie Dixon, Don Robey, Big Joe Turner, Jimmy Vaughan/Dr John and the traditional “Wade In The Water”.

The album opens with a brace of originals which show off Toots’ fine voice in two different styles: first the title track opens in shuffle mode with harp and cool jazzy guitar, Toot’s vocals relaxed and crystal clear; the second cut is “When Did You Stop Tryin’”, a slow blues with fine harp, piano and guitar. The first cover is Don Robey’s “Let Your Tears Fall Baby”, a rocking cut with excellent, stinging guitar and some exciting piano. Toots shows her uptempo vocal abilities on this one before she demonstrates her softer side on “Get Back To Lovin’”, a gentle love song accentuated by Chad’s fine guitar support. Kid Andersen is the featured guitarist on “Satisfied”, an uptempo original in which Toots extols the virtues of her man who keeps her fully satisfied. After that clear message of human comforts “Wade In The Water” makes an interesting contrast, Lorenzo’s organ underpinning another fine vocal from Toots in a relaxed take on the gospel tune. We return to more earthly concerns with “Built For Comfort”, a somewhat ironic choice for the slender Toots! Aki’s harp and Lorenzo’s piano embellish the familiar rhythm as Toots demonstrates that she can belt out a song of this kind just as well as the gentler material.

“Wrong Side Of Love” is another late night ballad, June using brushes, the bass, guitar and piano all playing quietly behind Toots, Chad and Lorenzo (on piano) taking restrained but tasty solos in the middle chorus. “Chad Mo Shuffle” is, as the title suggests, an instrumental feature for Chad before Toots tackles Big Joe Turner’s “Low Down Dog” in early rock and roll style, making keeping still while typing a real challenge! The final original is “Hindsight”, a slow, brooding tune on which Toots excels on vocals before Jimmy Vaughan and Dr John’s “Love The World” closes the album with another touch of gospel-inspired music.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable album which provides a variety of settings, all of which demonstrate what a fine singer Toots is. Definitely an album to check out, it comes with a strong recommendation from this reviewer.

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