Friday, September 7, 2012

Lisa Mann - Satisfied

Lisa Mann is one of my favorite people in the whole world and we’ve never even met. She’s based in Portland, Oregon and I’m here in Virginia. Only an entire country separates us, but we’ve become good friends through her music and trading emails when we can. This lady is extremely busy; she’s touring, recording, writing, and doing some amazing work and I’m lucky enough to get to hear it later. Her second album “Satisfied” is self-published and available at live venues or at CD Baby here. You can find  out all things Lisa Mann at her website.

I guess what I’m saying is, if you’re looking for a completely objective review of her music, well, I’ll be honest and fair, but honestly I really liked this album a lot. I first listened to it the way I listen to a lot of CDs, I threw it in my car player and listened while I drove back and forth between Richmond and Jordan’s Branch. I can catch up on a lot of CDs while covering that territory, but I mainly listened to Mann’s sides over and over again.

Her voice is remarkable – she has the ability to purr and then immediately switch to a deep growl. There is no doubt that she is growing as an artist, her confidence is sky high, and it should be. She’s assembled a fine band made up of Jeff Knudson on guitars, Michael Ballash on drums and Brian Harris on keys. There are a number of guest artists that I’ll cover in a minute.

Mann wrote nine of the thirteen songs on the album and she starts out with one of her compositions, “See You Next Tuesday,” that documents her tribulations with a variety of people who mess up her life.  It’s a swinging number and you know we’re off to a good start. Next up is a side penned by Jeff Johnson titled “Gamblin’ Virgin Mary.” It’s a cool bar song, a little surreal, and the keys get a gospel workout.  I’m not sure if that is Harris on keys or guest Alex Shakeri.  Dave Melyan also sits in on drums for this number.

The title track “Satisfied” was written by Milton Campell and Oliver Sain. It features Knudson’s fine guitar work to lead us into the song and Harris’ keys drive it much of the rest of the way. Mann and company then bring the tempo way down for a smoky blues number, “Surrender To The Blues.” Henry and I have featured this one on the show and I love it. It’s a great late night song and features Brad Ulrich on baritone sax, Dan Fincher on tenor sax, and Joe McCarthy on trumpet.  

“Always Nobody” picks things up again and sings that age old lament that you can be famous all over the world, but you are always a nobody in your home town. Lloyd Jones adds his guitars and vocals to this number. “Have I Told You I Love You Today” brings a little country flavor to Mann’s CD and it is one of the most heartfelt numbers she has recorded. Caton Lyles adds percussion to the song. The next song is a driving number, “Til The Wheels Come Off.” Melyan and Shakeri are back on drums and keys respectively, and once again Knudson’s guitars get a real workout.

“Catch Me When I Fall” is another slow number that makes you sit up and listen. Sonny “Smokin’” Hess joins in on guitar and Kevin Labaron adds some stellar sax work. It’s one of many stand out songs on the CD. Mann picks up the tempo again and gives us a swinging number “I Was Gonna” that lets the keys run with a little gospel fervor.

“Alone,” written by Peter W. Allen and Carole Bayer Sager is another slow number that pulls at you. It is beautiful in its stripped down simplicity. The pause leading into “Don’t Touch Me” written by Maxwell Davis, Sam Ling, and Johnny “Guitar” Watson just makes this an even stronger song. Kevin Selfe adds his guitar to the mix as well as the horn trio of Ulrich, Fincher, and McCarthy.

“Kings of Black Gold” is a story of those who control black gold, Texas Tea, you know that stuff that made Jed Clampett the head of the Ozark Opec leaders. Mitch Kashmar lends some nice harmonica work to punctuate the song. Even with the pointed lyrics, Mann still manages to make this one sound like it rose from the depths of the swamp before exploding on the stage. She ends the CD with “Doin’ Alright” that features Joe Powers on harp, Brian Foxworth on drums and backing vocals, and Larhonda Steele, Rae Gordon, and Sonny Hess joining the backing vocals.

All in All, “Satisfied” is a very strong CD, one that I’m proud to put on the juke box. And Lisa, if you ever make it to the East Coast, we’ll make sure you have a stage to play. Just come on down to the crossroads and we’ll set you up.

(Picture of Lisa Mann artfully pilfered from her website. If you are the owner of the picture and want us to remove it, by all means, be a bully and have us take it down.)

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