Saturday, November 10, 2012

Teresa James' Come On Home

Originally from Houston Texas, vocalist Teresa James makes her base in Los Angeles where she works with her band, The Rhythm Tramps who she has been working with for several years. James has performed live with such legendary artists as Levon Helm, Delbert McClinton, Bonnie Raitt, Kirk Whalum, Marcia Ball, Tommy Castro, Al Anderson, Asleep at the Wheel, and Lee Roy Parnell as well as having been a featured act on Delbert McClinton's Sandy Beaches Blues Cruise. James’s band, the Rhythm Tramps consists bassist Terry Wilson; guitarist Billy Watts; drummer Harman Matthews and percussionist Debra Dopkin. She has had a number of well-regarded albums, with the latest being Come On Home (Jesi-Lu Records).

Bassist Wilson produced this new recording as well as contributed to many of the original songs heard here. In addition to the members of the Rhythm Tramps there are some notable guests on this recordings including Jerry Peterson on saxophone; Lee Thornburg, who did the horn arrangements, on trumpet; the horn section from Mingo Fishtrap on one track; Jon Cleary on piano; Mike Finnigan on B-3 (and a vocal duet) David P. Jackson on accordion on one cut; Jim Christie and Tony Braunagel share the drum chair with Matthews on several selections and Leslie Smith adds his vocals. John Porter did the mixing. Quite a supporting cast that has been assembled here.

From the opening title track to the rocking closing All I Want to Dance, James places her stamp on the songs here supported by The Rhythm Tramps and guests. For those who have not heard her think about a Janis Joplin influenced singer with a dose of Bonnie Raitt mixed in. She sings naturally, in an unforced and convincing fashion. Throughout, the band plays terrifically whether rocking or laying down a lazy groove.

The title track sets the pace with the rock-solid groove as she displays a take no nonsense attitude about the man who should take his sorry ass, lazy bones home. Its followed by her duet with Finnigan, a nice cover of Etta James & Harvey Fuqua’s soulful If I Can’t Have You, where both invest so much into their singing. The swamp-country soul of My Baby Knows What I Want, celebrates her man who holds her tenderly and knows what good loving is all about. It is followed by the rock and roll of Tommy Kay’s Long Way From Texas, with Cleary adding rollicking piano. 

Wilson’s Forgetting You, is a fine southern soul styled ballad with nice use of horns to frame her heartfelt vocal. There is more R&B flavor on Still Got the Message, with echoes of the Hi Rhythm Section while She’s Got a Way With Men (which she co-wrote with Wilson), conjures up classic Motown. Voodoo Doll, with Jackson’s accordion, adds some New Orleans flavor. On Carry That Burden, James sings with considerable restraint. It speaks to how good a singer she is that her performance on this is as authoritative as when she belts out a rocker like I Can Do Better.

Come On Home, is a first-class recording that makes clear why folks like Bonnie Raitt, Kirk Whalum and Delbert McClinton are admirers of Teresa James. 

I received a review copy from a publicist for this release. Here is Teresa James and the Rhythm Tramps in performance. 

1 comment:

Wayno & his better half Sherry said...

I had the pleasure of seeing and meeting Teresa at a small blues fest
(Blues For Food) in Seattle in the fall of 2012. She was touring some clubs in the Northwest and played a set in support of this fine fund raiser. She donated five dollars of every c.d. sold to the cause. After her set we yuked it up over her time in Alaska(my home).She was here in the 80's playing a hotel gig,the manager asked if the band would please play top forty dance music instead of 'that stuff'. Her gig ended early. She also gave me a phone number for tickets to Tater Fest, an event I have always wanted to travel 5000 miles to attend. Maybe in 2013.
Thanks for your posts, I read every one.