An album of eleven tracks, to sooth your aching mind and body, comes care of Lady Blackbird`s Black Acid Soul. The artist who once moved to the moniker of Marley Munroe, now cloaked in an air of round midnight mystery, summons the spirits of her influences to raise yours. Huskily covering Nina Simone`s Blackbird, channeling the feted musical genius / civil rights activist at her most angry and anguished, to a soft, contrabass shuffle. Paying tribute to Irma Thomas with an introspective reading of The Queen Of New Orleans` Ruler Of My Heart. There’s a Sarah Vaughan vibe to Fix It, which perfectly repurposes Bill Evans` Peace Piece, while Five Feet Tall`s devastating delivery could be a homage to Billie Holiday`s definitive, show-stopping, rendition of Strange Fruit. This sensational siren amping up the heartbreak on Tim Hardin`s It will Never Happen Again (a song popularized in the UK by The Beatles` mate, Cilla), and making Sam Cooke`s Lost And Looking her own. Taking its gospel roots and transforming the secular back into something sacred.
Authentic Spooner Oldham / Muscle Shoals organ shimmer completes a spine-tingling shot at Reuben Bell And The Casanovas` deep soul treasure, It`s Not That Easy.
Throughout, this amazing, worldly-wise, but not weary, instead often soaring, songstress is accompanied by a quintet of incredibly accomplished players. Deron Johnson, Jimmy Paxton, and Chris Seefried, crafting careful, considered, arrangements for baby grand, brushed drums, and clipped guitar chords, respectively. Jon Flaugher`s double-bass, all in your face, dominating the mix with its warmth. The playing, and Seefried`s production – captured in L.A.`s Sunset Sound Studio B, once “Prince`s Room” – is incredibly intimate, successfully shadowing the sensual sonics of the `50s and `60s. The results, as a consequence, timeless. Nobody`s Sweetheart is as sublime as a 20s jazz standard. Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews` cool blue horn, painting pictures of Miles, or Chet, blowing, while Lady B sings of autumn, fall, endings, waiting for new beginnings, and spring`s thaw. Her version of The James Gang`s Collage – inspired by The Three Degrees – also likens life`s cycle of chances, joys and regrets, to the wonder of seasons passing. Gratefully accepting this rhythm and rhyme as just part of god`s – whichever you worship – glorious game.
Collectively, they completely deconstruct, reconfigure, Voices Of East Harlem`s classic Wanted Dead Or Alive. On their interpretation, Beware The Stranger, the former rare groove has its gender reassigned, the Blaxploitation hustler now a Noir femme fatale. The anti-heroine of a narrative scored by vibraphone flashes, shimmering cymbals, and cinematic strings, taken to church, and baptised, by its heavenly choir. The title track, featuring a funky Mellotron solo from Johnson, is a combination of Cassandra Wilson running the voodoo down, and Keith Jarrett`s endless, spiritual, dancing – bringing to a close a beautiful set of ballads, blues-not-blues, songs that in uncertain dark days, and nights, offer both comfort and hope.
Lady Blackbird`s Black Acid Soul will be released on September 3rd. Copies can be preordered directly from Ross Allen’s Foundation Music. If you’re in the UK watch out for a performance at We Out Here, on August 22nd, in prep for a launch gig at Oxford Street`s legendary 100 Club, currently scheduled for August 26th.