Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My Lady Don’t Love My Lady reviewed by Mark Thompson

My Lady Don’t Love My Lady

Bryan Lee

Justin Time Records, Inc

12 tracks/67:31

The last time I caught Mr. Lee live, I left convinced that I had just witnessed his best performance of the many times I have seen him and his stellar backing band. The primary reason I was so impressed was the quality of Bryan’s vocals that night. He sang with a powerful, expressive voice that expertly captured whatever feeling each song was going for. With his new recording, Bryan proves that what I heard that evening was no fluke.

Lee gets the star treatment on this project with Duke Robillard once again in the producer’s chair and special guest appearances by Buddy Guy and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. He is accompanied by an all-star group of musicians including Boston Blues award winner David Maxwell on piano, Marty Ballou on bass, Gordon “Sax” Beadle on tenor sax, Doug James on baritone sax and John Perkins, Lee’s regular drummer. Some musicians might be overwhelmed in the middle of all of this talent but Lee thrives on pressure, not afraid to share the spotlight but always bringing the listener’s attention back to his own contributions.

Big Bill Broonzy’s “When I Been Drinking” sports a late-night feel punctuated by Maxwell’s sparkling piano licks. The Beadle/James horn section provides a marvelous backdrop for Lee, who sings the tune like someone with first-hand experience on the subject matter. Lee turns the Willie Mabon classic “I Don’t Know” into a raucous rocker, with Maxwell and Beadle turning in strong solos before the leader finishes the cut with some stinging guitar work. The opening number, “Imitation of Love”, finds Lee voice soaring over hard, funky beat punctuated by the horns. Buddy Guy appears on a cover of a tune penned by his old partner, Junior Wells. Lee sings with conviction while Guy’s biting guitar tone and inspired playing serve to remind us why he is the dean of the Chicago electric blues guitar style. A quick run-through of Shepherd’s tune, “Let Me Up I’ve Had Enough”, gives Kenny Wayne a chance to show off his impressive talent on guitar. The band manages to breathe new life into “Reconsider Me” with another stirring vocal performance from Lee and another magnificent arrangement for the horns.

There are three tunes penned by Lee on the disc, starting with “Too Many Wolves”, which finds Lee describing his attempts to deal with the current financial mess our country is in. Maxwell gets plenty of solo space and Lee closes the piece with his guitar ringing out over the riffing horn section. The title cut finds Lee in the midst of a losing battle, trying to make peace between his wife and his guitar. “Me and My Music” is a jump blues tune about a former girlfriend who suddenly reappears now that the singer has a big hit record. Lee shouts out that she can keep on knocking on the door “..but the fat boy don’t live there no more!”.

Lee has numerous moments to showcase his guitar work but it’s his superb singing that commands your attention. And he wisely gives his cadre of veteran musicians plenty of room to stretch out. Robillard keeps everyone focused and delivers a package with clean, crisp sound. I thought one of Lee’s prior releases - Six String Therapy - was the pinnacle of his recording career. But this new release now takes that honor thanks to Lee’s impassioned vocals and the fine ensemble work by the band. You don’t hear many recordings this good from start to finish !!!

Live at Rockford's Big Cities' Lounge 1/19/10!!!!

No comments: