Monday, February 28, 2011

Intriguing Blues Diva from Detroit

“Sweet Claudette” Harrell has been a mainstay of the Detroit music scene as a singer and songwriter. She gets to display her multi-faceted skills backed by her solid band on her new recording for Blue Skunk Records “That Man’s Got to Go.” The band includes the guitarists, Dan DeKuyper and Howard Glazer, the bass of Todd MacIntosh, the trumpet of Al ‘Big Al’ Haralson, the saxophone of Marty Montgomery, and the drums of Greg Manning.

The afore-mentioned band is a solid grouping that serves its accompanying role well and its members take some concise and thoughtful solos. The band arrangements are decent but the horn riffs are somewhat generic, while the solos show more imagination and flair. Sweet Claudette is a singer with a deep, understated delivery. Although she is not a shouter, she can belt a lyric out. There is a nice variation of material sung and played consistently at relaxed tempos. She can celebrate her man in the opening
Best Damn Loving, while complain about her man who has Too Many Irons, in the pot and can’t stay true.

Glazer adds slide guitar to help give atmosphere to her lyric directed against a cheating man who she tells “honey hush, honey hush, honey hush” and
Don’t Talk That Yak To Me, with Montgomery ripping off some tough tenor sax. This is followed by Love I See in Your Eyes, with a different lyrical sentiment and plenty of solo space for her band members. The CD cover notes that this was recorded “Live in the Studio,” which perhaps explains the length of some of the tracks. Despite the very nice playing (trumpeter Haralson is wonderful on Love I See in Your Eyes), a string of solos still diminishes the impact of a vocal when one is listening to a performance at home as opposed to seeing a group live. Shortening a couple of the lengthier performances would have provided the performances with more focus and a stronger impression. Its not that the performances are lacking, but as a recording they would have been stronger with some editing.

A couple of interpretations of well known blues conclude this recording.
Ain’t Nobody’s Business, based on Albert King’s rendition, opens with some hot guitar before Sweet Claudette delivers her “Detroit Blues Power.” Meet Me is her reworking of the Cheatham’s Meet Me With Your Black Drawers On, with Glazer adding nice guitar. It ends an intriguing hour of blues with a slight touch of funk seasoning added.

My review copy was provided by the record label.

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