Monday, July 20, 2015

MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: CHERYL LESCOM & the Tucson Choir Boys - 1953

This is a good one for vocal fans, both lead singers and back-ups.  Lescom has one of the richest, biggest blues voices in the country, gritty and pretty at the same time, with a tremendous growl when needed.  She has four decades of experience, the album title proudly a reference to her birth year.  During that time, she's sung with Ronnie Hawkins and Long Joh Baldry, as well as leading her own groups. 

Each song here has the great vibe of party blues, with special work on the vocal arrangements.  With Lescom strutting her stuff up front, there are great doo-wop harmonies and answering vocals from the trio of singers behind.  Even more modern numbers, such as Just Pressed Send, about the dangers of on-line dating, get some classic oo-wa-wa's.  For those of us who consider prominent backing vocals a dying art, this is a special treat.

Lescom writes most of her own stuff with "Sameday" Ray Walsh, and the pair mine all the best '50's styles, from chugging r'n'b to rockabilly to that doo-wop.  With slap bass, lots of piano and most of the guitar on acoustics, many of the songs take you to some great dance hall by the lake decades back.  But before you say old-school, the gang offers up a contemporary tear-jerker in It's Not You, It's Me, a John Hiatt moment in a solid set start to finish.

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