Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Lucky Losers In Any Town

The Lucky Losers
In Any Town
Dirty Cat Records

It was a little over a year that this writer praised the debut release by The Lucky Losers, "A Winning Hand." This band led by vocalists Cathy Lemons and Phil Berkowitz (who also plays harmonica), also includes Marvin Greene on guitar; Chris Burns on keyboards, Tim Wagar on bass and Robi Bean on drums. Recorded at Kid Andersen's Greaseland Studio, Andersen also adds guitar, keyboards and percussion as well as co-produced this with Berkowitz and Lemons. Others contributing to this include Terry Hanck, Frank Goldwasser, Jeff Jensen, D'Mar and Michael Peloquin. Berkowitz and Danny Caron contributed four originals, Lemons five and there are a couple of renditions of songs not often covered among blues-roots bands.

Listening to the duo again, I remained especially impressed by Lemons natural and soulful delivery while Berkowitz's own unforced singing complements her so well. This is evident on the opening Berkowitz-Caron original "So High," a strong performance that might evoke Delaney & Bonnie. There is an unexpected, and very playful cover of the June and Johnny Cash duet, "Jackson," that shows the rapport between the two. Lemons' original "Don't Let 'Em SeeYa Cry," is a powerful slow blues set against a backing that recalls some of the Johnnie Taylor blues for Stax in the late 60s and early 70s (for example "Hello Sundown" and "Little Bluebird"). Greene suggests Little Milton with his solo on this which is followed by a nice harp solo from Berkowitz on a potent performance. Berkowitz sings "Blind Man In The Dark," for a nice blue-eyed soul performance. Franck Goldwasser plays slide on the rocking blues duet "I Can't Change Ya," while there is a reflective quality by Lemons on her title track.

A cover of Bobby Charles' "Small Town Talk," closes another fine recording by Lemons and Berkowitz. The quality and variety of material and the crisp, uncluttered and unhurried backing contribute to another superior recording from The Lucky Losers.

I received my review copy from a publicist. This review appeared originally in the July-August 2016  Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 367).

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