I Mean Business
Price Productions/ Vizztone
Lara Price was born in the war torn country of Vietnam in 1975. Abandoned at birth, Lara became a part of the controversial Operation Baby Lift, the mass evacuation of orphans from South Vietnam to the United States, and was one of the small number who have survived. She has been singing since a youth and in 1997 moved to the San Francisco Bay area where she has been involved in a variety of musical productions. "This"I Mean Business" is her sixth album (the first for this writer) and is an impressive and mature recording by this Bay Area singer whose career has included several genre spanning recordings.
Recorded at Kid Andersen's Greaseland Studios, Price is supported by an A-List crew of musicians including Jim Pugh (Robert Cray Band), Chris Cain, and fellow VizzTone label-mates Mighty Mike Schermer (Marcia Ball) and Laura Chavez (who plays with Lara frequently when she’s not touring with Candye Kane), along with Andersen and a tight, punchy horn section and backing vocal chorus. Price also wrote, co-wrote and collected songs for this release (some of the collaborations involved Schermer and Chavez) and the overall feel is of the classic soul and blues of the sixties and seventies.
This feel of classic soul and blues is fostered by her solid covers of the Candi Staton recording "Get It Where I Want It," Ann Peebles' "Slipped, Tripped, Fell In Love," both of which were penned by George Jackson. She has a touch of vibrato in her singing and her vocal dynamics helps add to the power of her singing. Also strong is a strong interpretation of Freddie King's "Pack It Up." Her originals certainly are noteworthy as well including her collaboration with Schermer, "Happy Blue Year," with some terrific guitar from him as well as keyboards from Pugh, to enhance her moving vocal on this blues lament. Chavez (who added some terrific guitar to "Pack It Up") collaborated on the deep soul original "Time," probably the best example of Price's use of dynamics in her vocal with the performance's intensity building to its explosive climax (and Chavez is stunning here as well).
There are other delights including the title track with Chris Cain's sharp guitar break and a a strutting groove behind Price's fervent singing and the closing blue lament "Love Lost" with Andersen on lead guitar. Price impressed this writer throughout and sounding convincing whether singing softly or forcefully. With excellent support and Kid Andersen's solid production, Lara Price's "I Mean Business" is a striking recording.
I received a review copy from VizzTone. This review originally appeared in the January-February 2016 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 364). Here is Lara Price performing.