Veronica Lewis – You Ain’t Unlucky
Blue Heart Records – 2021
8 tracks; 33 minutes
Piano enthusiasts rejoice! Soon after a new keyboard prodigy in Cincinatti’s Ben Levin here comes another, Veronica Lewis. Born in New Hampshire just 17 years ago, Veronica is already well established in her native New England where she has been recognized as the Best Young Artist in the Boston area; in 2019 she traveled across the country playing at festivals from Rhode Island to Memphis. On this debut album Veronica is supported by a drummer (one of Mike Walsh, Ben Rogers or Chris Anzalone); sax is added to four tracks by Don Davis and to one by Joel Edinberg. On three tracks Veronica was recorded at home playing her 115 year old upright piano ‘Margaret’! Veronica wrote six songs and there are two covers.
The title track opens proceedings with a New Orleans-flavored tune and it is immediately obvious that Veronica is a terrific piano player. The song stresses the need to think positively (a message we all need at present): “Some people think it’s bad every cherry has a pit, but inside every pit is a whole new tree”. The way that Don’s sax works against Veronica’s rolling piano is excellent on this and the second track “Clarksdale Sun” which takes us down to the Delta with a boogie rhythm and we can really hear how well Veronica handles the bottom end on this one.
“Put Your Wig On Mama” takes us further North to Chicago, a song apparently written for Veronica’s mother. Veronica channels Chicago greats like Otis Spann on this one. On the sole instrumental Veronica moves into pure rock and roll territory on the appropriately titled “Ode To Jerry Lee” which is arguably the standout cut here.
Veronica’s vocals are strong. She sometimes resorts to vocal gymnastics, a tendency that is particularly evident on her cover of Louis Jordan’s “Is You Is My Baby” which is slowed down and played in an arrangement that recalls Gershwin’s “Summertime”. The three songs recorded on the venerable ‘Margaret’ include the second cover, Katie Webster’s “Whoo Whee Sweet Daddy”, which barrels along with Joel’s sax bubbling away behind the boogie rhythm. “Fool Me Twice” again has a New Orleans feel with pounding piano and a great left hand boogie, one of the songs without sax.
“The Memphis Train” is another boogie tune that rolls along at great pace as Veronica celebrates riding the 601, referencing a famous train service that ceased operating in 1968, a very long time before she was born!
This relatively short CD heralds the arrival on the scene of a major piano talent who seems equally at home across the gamut of blues and roots styles.