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Album Review

Even though veteran West Coast bassist Johnny Ace contributed to Cathy Lemons' 1997 solo release and the two have been frequent collaborators for some time, this is the first album where they share co-billing. Ace, not to be confused with the '50s R&B star, has supported dozens of classic blues and R&B musicians through the years to little acclaim, but has found a perfect partner with husky, sassy vocalist Lemons. The duo's debut effort is a rousing, rollicking affair that shifts from gutsy garage rocking to rugged, torchy blues. Even more impressive is the material — all but two tracks are originals, many based on driving bass licks such as the raw funk of "I Got It" and the opening double-time soul blast of "Brand New Day." Lemons naturally takes most of the leads but Ace is a constant presence, delivering meaty basslines and the occasional duet or front vocal. It's a combustive combination that explodes early on with "Love Like a Fire," a punky soul jam with a propulsive joint vocal that's as fiery and live-sounding as a studio track can get. Guitarist Kid Andersen, who co-produces, contributes to a handful of songs, but most of the six-string work is handled by Pierre Le Corre. His taut, jagged solos mesh perfectly with the front couple, filling in the spaces but seldom hogging the spotlight. Ace is prone to telling somewhat rambling stories as on "Sink or Swim" and the closing "Move On," an acquired taste that might work live, but is less intriguing on an album meant to be replayed. Lemons is a tough, soulful vocalist bearing some similarities to Bonnie Raitt, but with a plucky strut and delivery that are both playful and powerful. When she lets loose on the slow blues of "I'm Not the Woman I Used to Be" and "Gimme a Penny," she builds an intensity and momentum that are as impressive as the female blues greats who have influenced her, such as Big Mama Thornton, who previously recorded the latter tune. Lemonace might be the first album from both Ace and Lemons as partners, but the decades of hard work that preceded it are evident in every blistering moment. One hopes this is the beginning of a fresh and fruitful career for this synergetic and searing partnership.

Top Albums and Songs by Cathy Lemons & Johnny Ace

Lemonace, Cathy Lemons & Johnny Ace
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  • 8,99 €
  • Genres: Blues, Music, Rock
  • Released: 18 May 2010

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