Lisa Biales is a new name to me, but this Ohio native has been around on the music scene for a while, with several self-released albums to her name. Covering ground that includes jazz, blues, swing and country, this new album was recorded in Georgiaunder the guiding hand of The Georgia Songbird, E G Kight. Lisa plays a mighty fine guitar but her most notable instrument is her voice; whether the song is slow or fast she has warmth, purity and strength in her voice and her voice is very much the focus of this production.
With three songs by Lisa herself, some E G Kight originals, some classic oldies from Memphis Minnie and The Delmore Brothers plus some other choice covers, there’s a wide range of material here, all sung and played with a sense of fun and enjoyment. In many ways the selection reminds me of a favourite Maria Muldaur album from the 70s, just chock full of songs that seem to have been around forever, even the new ones. Producer Paul Hornsby keeps the vibe mostly acoustic – guitar, bass, drums – and there’s some lovely piano and Hammond organ from Mr Hornsby himself on some songs. This sounds especially good on the bottom-of-the-bottle E G Kight song, When You Were Mine. Other instruments also appear, including clarinet for the swinging take on Memphis Minnie’s Call The Fire Wagon and a laconic tuba marking the pulse on Yonder Come The Blues, once sung by Odetta. When a bit more fire is needed, Ken Wynn contributes some nice electric guitar, particularly the blues grit that he brings to the Etta James song, Damn Your Eyes, which is probably the pick of the whole album. Here Lisa really goes for it and sounds like she’s really feeling the lyric. There are times when you feel that everybody’s a little too relaxed, not quite making the impact that you feel is lurking in there somewhere – certainly there’s plenty enough in Lisa Biales’ voice to make a knockout album and maybe this one’s a bit short of being that. Good fun, though, with quality in every department.
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