Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sheba Butter On My Rolls

Mississippi born Sheba Beck has travelled many miles (literally and figuratively) since leaving the life in a Mississippi sharecropper’s family as a youngster. Growing up in Florida music became her calling as she play din various types of groups ranging from rhythm and blues and jazz to the blues she sings today. She has endured hardships, and abusive relationships, but her experiences provide a foundation for the music heard on her recent self-produced recording Butter on My Rolls. Sheba is backed by George ‘Chocolate’ Perry on synthesized strings, bass, drums and synthesized horns; Michael ‘The Dog’ Gauthier on keyboards, synthesized strings and synthesized horns, Walter ‘Roach’ Thompson on guitar; and Chuck Juntzman on slide guitar. While this writer isn’t a fan of synthesized horns and strings, they are functional and provide musical color. The backing fortunately is from real musicians as opposed to drum machines.

While some songs may sound generic, and the backing sometimes gets frantic (the boogie woogie shuffle Oh So Good taken at too fast a tempo), Sheba is a wonderful, soulful singer who caresses her lyrics while belting out a line or two for emphasis. She never sounds strident, and is compelling on slow blues (Real Good Woman who wonders about all those no good men) or soulful ballads (Can’t Help Lovin’ My Man and Don’t Say Goodbye). She gets down and bawdy celebrating her  well-packaged Big Man, telling other women to find their own good big man. She shows her presence on the rocking funky Pourin’ Rain, but the album's finest gem is the talking blues Blues of My Soul, with slide guitar backing where she recalls growing up in Mississippi and her mother taking her to Florida. She is a marvelous storyteller. She follows it with the title track, a song suggestive on some of the vaudeville blues of the twenties but with a lyric of today.

There may not be anything fancy about Sheba or Butter on My Rolls, but her vocals and songs ring true and full of heart. If the backing is mostly functional, there is nothing wrong with that when one is supporting a singer with the character Sheba manifests throughout.

I received my review copy from a publicist.  Here is a video to promote this recording.

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