It should not come as a surprise to anyone that many women seem to have many different personas from which they can draw on for different occasions. If you can accept that premise, then it should also not come as a surprise that a very talented woman, British star Dani Wilde, has chosen to explore two of those sides for her new VizzTone release, Live At Brighton Road.
Wilde, who is an award-winning vocalist as well as a smoking hot guitarist, has decided that she wanted to bring her touring band into the studio and record two distinctly different sounds. She divided the ten songs, six of which she wrote, into two perfect sets – one acoustic and one electric.
I think the poet William Blake did much the same thing with two books of poetry, Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. (Hey, I’m not called “The Professor” for nothing.) If Blake were writing today, he would probably be a bluesman, writing about the darkness of everyday life and finding ways to light a candle in the darkness.
But I digress…
For the songs that Wilde has chosen to cover, she performs songs written by the likes of Memphis Minnie, Mike Rutherford, Leiber and Stoller, and even one from her brother, Will Wilde. The rest all belong to Wilde.
I mentioned her band earlier, the musicians on the album include Wilde herself on guitars and lead vocals; brother Will Wilde on harmonica; Victoria Smith on bass; Gregory Coulson on piano and organ; Sarah Davison on cello; Jack Bazzani on percussion; and Alan Taylor on the drum kit. Backing vocals were provided by Megan Devereux, Kate Cameron, and Faye Streek.
The album starts off beautifully with a great cover of Memphis Minnie’s Bumble Bee featuring some light percussion and Will Wilde’s impressive harp. Wilde’s voice has a razor-sharp edge at times, and a sweet side at other times. Memphis Minnie is such an important figure in the blues, so it makes this old timer happy to hear one of her songs being performed by such a young performer. I hope more people will discover her genius after this interpretation.
The next song, My Old Man, is a Wilde original. It starts off like it’s being performed on a front porch. Her voice is as sweet as honeysuckle and the song has a lovely country blues feel. Her harmonies with her backup singers is delightful. As Wilde is known for her country singing as well as her blues, it’s no wonder that she includes this gentle portrait on the album.
She follows up with another original song, Glorious Day. The song starts out slowly with a simple guitar behind her glorious voice. When Wilde opens up and lets go, she can let loose a great belt, but she uses it sparingly which keeps its power. She can drop her voice down into a purr and this song continues the mood established by the previous song. The backing vocalists give it a gospel feel, which gets an emphasis at the end of the number, and Will Wilde plays a great harp.
Her next song is her acoustic version of the pop hit for Mike + The Mechanics, The Living Years. Her sweet voice takes control quickly and her interpretation breathes new life into the song. The lyrics straddle the blues and her delivery, complete with tambourine and cello, gives the song a sound that could easily be considered new folk. I love this version and applaud her for releasing it in as an almost eight-minute version. After I wipe a tear from my eye, I will put this on my private playlist.
The last song in her acoustic set is an original and bears a strange title for an acoustic number, Electricity. The song is just her amazing voice and a little guitar. It’s a gorgeous number, slow and gentle, and she has the ability
Wilde switches guitars and plugs in for her electric set, kicking off with one of her songs, Deeper Than Black. Immediately there is an excitement in her playing. She handled the acoustic set like a long time country blues singer, but her strength is in her assured electric playing. She adds some jazz touches to the song, and this is a great way to start off what essentially is another album.
She follows up with Leiber & Stoller’s Hound Dog, the Big Mama Thornton version, not the Elvis remake. Wilde puts all the meaning back into the song that the pop version removed. Will Wilde’s harp is strong and Wilde herself turns in a great guitar break. Great rendition!
Speaking of Will Wilde, he’s the songwriter for High On Your Love It’s a rocking boogie number that’s got to get the audience up on their feet and out on the dance floor. This is a fun number and gives the band a chance to really rock out. I sure wish I could see them perform this one live!
Wilde and company turn in two more of her songs, starting with Don’t Quit Me Baby. Will Wilde has a great turn on harp and Dani Wilde delivers some of her best vocals on the album. Love this song, and even though it’s a new song, I could hear so many great ladies take their turn with it. Love it!
Wilde closes the album with her song, Refugee. Wilde is a huge supporter of a charity that brings orphaned and displaced children to schools in Kenya. Here she brings awareness to all of the displaced people around the globe. It’s an amazing cause and I salute anyone who can shed light on such serious problems. The song is a lovely number that showcases her haunting voice. Beautiful song – and a gorgeous way to end her album.
Remember those commercials that would shout, “But wait! There’s more!” Well, I could say the same thing about this album as it includes a DVD of her performing these songs in the studio, plus an interview. Think of it, a fantastic album, and a companion DVD that you can watch at your leisure.
By the way, I’m saying that review for another day, as usual I’ve gotten a tad wordy here…
I think it’s safe to say that while I was a fan of some of Dani Wilde’s earlier work on Ruf, she has really developed as an artist, and this release for VizzTone is her strongest to date. Live At Brighton Road captures all of the energy of a live performance with the added safety of being in the studio. Her songwriting is strong, and her selections of covers blends perfectly with her originals.
The CD/DVD set is available now and you can find it at her website, https://www.daniwilde.com/, where you can also find out about her touring plans and her charity work. Of course, you can always head over to VizzTone at http://www.vizztone.com/ to find out more about their great artists, and you can get the album there as well!