I love the female voice. Just in case you were wondering. Nothing against male singers, I count many among my favorites, but my favorite instrument is a woman’s voice. The intonation, the range, and the emotion that they convey touch my soul.
As a result, I’m always on the lookout for new performers to try out, and most are good, but don’t take me to the places my favorites do. That is, until now.
Let me introduce you to Lauren Mitchell. This Florida performer has just released a new CD, Desire, and frankly, it knocked me out. Her vocals are amazing, and she straddles that blues-soul fence with the best of them, and I do mean the best. I have no problem putting her alongside my favorites from the past and present and look forward to catching more of her work as soon as humanly possible.
She’s no lightweight, and she brings Super Producer Tony Braunagel to the project. Braunagel could make a career out of working with the likes of Bonnie Raitt, but he’s in demand for his amazing skills. He picks only the best albums to work on, and he’s done a great job on this one.
Mitchell kicks off the album with a rousing anthem, (I Don’t Need Nobody To Tell Me) How To Treat My Man. Her voice growls and tells anyone who is listening to back off, she knows what she’s doing. This is a great opener and sets up the feeling that she is a take-no-crap-from-anyone woman.
Next up is Soul Music, a song Mitchell co-wrote with Sheri Nadelman. The two will collaborate on three other songs, but for this first one, the sound is sweet, and the horns add a nice touch. The phrase “soul music” has a couple of meanings – the genre of music is one, and the other is music for the soul. In this one song, Mitchell captures both meanings. I love soul music, and this is one I’m going to enjoy playing – a lot.
The title track, Desire, is another Mitchell-Nadelman collaboration and for this song, they are joined by songwriter Jeff Paris to create a beautiful number that fires on all its blues cylinders. Her vocals are honed to a knife’s edge and are backed by pure power. Damn, this is a good song, and you better believe I’ll be featuring this one soon on Time For The Blues.
She picks up the tempo with Jump Into My Fire, and it features some nimble guitar work. I love the darkness in her voice, this is someone you know who has experienced the pain of which she sings. Sometimes you hear someone who sings the blues, in her case, Mitchell lives the blues. You can tell the difference in her approach.
She brings the tempo way down, but keeps the heat going on Good To Me As I Am To You. This is an old-fashioned torch style song that is pure blues. I could hear any of the great voices in the past take on this song and do it proud, and it Mitchell’s case, it merely cements my opinion that she is one of the great voices of the present – and the future. There are already several songs you’ll be hearing on the show, and we’re not even halfway through.
Feels So Good has a late night chanteuse feel. This Tomcat Blake number reaches into Mitchell’s soul and brings out the pain she’s experiencing. The backing vocals add that soul flair to the number. Listen for the gospel flavored organ break. Nice touch.
She swings some on Stand Up Like A Man, and exhorts the listener to do what’s right. The guitar mixes well with the organ and the backing vocalists add a soulful touch. It’s a good, quick number. She slows down the tempo for the next song, Today. It’s a quiet, unassuming number that strips away some of the instruments and utilizes her voice to take the song into different dimensions. Things will never be the way they were, the future is unknown, and all we have is today…
Mitchell takes on I Ain’t Been (Licked Yet), a song written by singer songwriters Ashford & Simpson. It’s funky and soulful, and her voice tears into the lyrics with fierce abandon. It’s a song of triumph amidst all the pain she’s endured until now.
She keeps the funk going on Betty Mabry’s Anti-Love Song. The song utilizes a cool jazzy musical backdrop with bass and piano doing the heavy lifting and allowing Mitchell’s edgy voice to deliver the goods. It’s not my favorite song on the album, but it’s different approach to the music does make one sit up and pay attention.
Mitchell follows up with the swinging gospel tinged Bridge Of My Dreams. It’s old-school as she takes us to church and delivers a sermon that begs to be heard. Throughout the album, Mitchell has demonstrated her versatility in the number of different styles she covered with ease. I am in awe of her talent and can’t wait to find more of her work.
Once again Mitchell teams up with Nadelman and they add the talents of percussion genius and producer Tony Braunagel for Lead Me On. It’s a low, slow, emotional song that really gives Mitchell’s voice a workout. She manages to wring out every single painful memory and pour them out over a sparse musical accompaniment. It’s the longest song on the album at just a shade over six minutes, and it’s also one of the best.
She closes out the album with one last collaboration with Nadelman on Brown Liquor. It’s funky and fun with enough attitude for an entire album of songs. How many times have we turned to liquid medicine only to find that it only helped temporarily? Still, it makes for a great song, and maybe a little bit of a warning. Great way to finish it off.
If you haven’t figured out by now, I’m crazy about this album. I want to play just about every song on Time For The Blues, but since that’s most likely not going to happen, you might want to invest in your own copy. Check out her music and travels at her website, http://laurenmitchellband.com and take a chance on her, you just might find a new favorite singer.