I have been a fan of Marcia Ball’s music for longer than I care to admit. She is equally at home with a rollicking barrelhouse style piano as she is with a tender ballad and can change your mood by switching gears from one to the other. In all the times I have seen her perform live, she has always been surrounded by top drawer musicians, and on her most recent release, SHINE BRIGHT, on Alligator Records, she continues that tradition.
Aside from Ball herself on piano and vocals, the album features several members of her touring band including Don Bennett on bass, “Mighty” Mike Schermer on guitar, Eric Bernhardt on tenor sax, and Corey Keller on drums. Other musicians on the album include Lee Allen Zeno and Bruce Hughes on bass; Jermaine Prejean on drums and percussion; Conrad Choucroun on drums; Roddie Romero on guitar, accordion, and background vocals; Eric Adcock and Red Young on Hammond B-3 organ; Steve Berlin and Dan Bechdolt on baritone sax; Enrique Chi on tres; Justin Vasquez on alto sax; and Steve Butts and Al Gomez Jr on trumpet.
Backing vocals were provided by Yvette Landry, Shelley King, Carolyn Wonderland, Eric Bernhardt, Don Bennett, Mike Schermer, Kimmie Rhodes, and Jolie Goodnight.
Ball kicks off the album with the title track, Shine Bright, an up-tempo number that offers a touch of optimism with a gospel tinge. It’s a solid quick number and sets the table for what will most likely be a fun album. It’s one that calls the roll of a number of people who have positively affected the world and it will be appearing on Time For The Blues, probably starting the show!
She follows up with another upbeat number, I Got To Find Somebody. It’s a longing for someone that Ball would like to stay home with and just be herself. It’s a sweet sentiment, and Ball has some fun with the song.
Next up is a song written by Ball and Gary Nicholson, They Don’t Make ‘Em Like That. It’s got a nice shuffle and takes a nostalgic look at life. It’s easy to look back with rose colored glasses and Ball recreates the sounds she’s describing. She also makes a strong point of creating strong foundations for the future.
Ball co-writes the next song, Life Of The Party, with Mike Schermer. It’s a bit of a departure for two artists so deeply steeped in the blues, much more of a Caribbean rhythm than a 12-bar shuffle. As both Ball and Schermer are influenced by New Orleans sounds, (which include Caribbean and Mexican influences among others) it’s fun to hear what they do with this song.
Ball then covers the Ray Charles number, What Would I Do Without You. It’s a solid R&B cover and should be appearing on an upcoming episode of Time For The Blues. Ball co-wrote the next song, When The Mardi Gras Is Over, with singer Shelley King and Tim Cook. It’s a joyous party song that throws in lots of great ingredients like a tasty musical gumbo.
Once In A Lifetime Thing is a sweet ode to domestic love. It’s a fun song that should find its way onto the airwaves. I know it’ll be on our show. Ball gets soulful as well as philosophical on the next song, Pots And Pans. Politics be damned, it’s time to make noise and be counted. Here’s your chance.
She slows things down for the lovely World Full Of Love. Marcia Ball delivers a ballad like few others can, and she’s at the top of her game on this song. It’s the kind of soft song that can silence an audience and make them pay closer attention and maybe even shed a tear while listening.
Before you can get too melancholy, Ball follows up with the rocking, I’m Glad I Did What I Did. This is a fun over the top stomping number that will get ‘em up and moving around. I love this song, and you better believe it will be making an appearance soon on the show.
She keeps the tempo lively with the next song, Too Much For Me. It wouldn’t be a Marcia Ball album without a few party songs that keep you moving and this is definitely one of the best on the album.
Ball brings the album to a close with Jesse Winchester’s Take A Little Louisiana. She rocks it Cajun style, complete with accordion and some solid orchestrations, and you just can’t help but move to the song. It conjured up a little bayou dive I fondly remembered for its great music and spicy food. What a delightful way to end the album, and make me want to hit the repeat button a couple more times.
Chances are that if you are a blues fan, you just might be a Marcia Ball fan as well. Her music is too big and too boisterous to fit under one label, even blues, so if you like New Orleans flavored songs, or sweet unapologetic ballads, this album is one you’ll enjoy. Catch her while she’s on tour and find any of her albums that are not currently in your collection by visiting her web site: http://www.marciaball.com/.
Ball just rolled through town a couple of months ago, so we’ve probably got to wait close to a year to catch her again. But you better believe, whenever she comes through, I’ll be there. Hope you’ll join me!