Jackie Johnson’s CD, “Memphis Jewell”, released by Catfood Records, is a very well done and interesting recording. Not being familiar with the works of Jackie Johnson, I took the time to listen to this CD several times before deciding where to go with a review of it.
“Memphis Jewell” features a great mix of quality musicians but the outstanding thing here is the powerful and flexible voice of Jackie Johnson. This is truly her instrument. Three guitar players are featured on this recording. This list includes Johnny McGhee, Lance Keltner and Evan Leak. McGhee was a former guitarist for Marvin Gaye and Dianna Ross. Keltner’s credentials include being a guitar player with Rod Stewart. A very accomplished horn section fills up the CD with a very powerful full sound. This horn section includes Andy Roman, Mike Middleton and Robert Claiborne. Also in the mix are some fine background singers including Reba Russell’s talent on seven tracks.
The highlight song, to me, on “Memphis Jewell” is “Love You Still”. This tune is really a good duet with Jackie Johnson and Johnny Rawls. Both of these performers are fantastic vocalist in their own right but together they become very powerful. “Love You Still” has the whole package with the duet, the horn section, Johnny McGhee on guitar and Dan Ferguson on keyboard. This tune is really good stuff.
Other songs featured on “Memphis Jewell” include “”Tears of a Clown” and the bluesy “It Should Have Been Me” and Abner Burnett’s “Brightside”. Two tracks were also co-written by Jackie and her husband. These songs are “DoYa” and “Will You Be Mine”. Everything on this CD is done well and very enjoyable, but as you see, it is a mix of R&B, funk, gospel and blues.
The main attraction of “Memphis Jewell” is the vocal quality of Jackie Johnson. She has a great range of moods and feelings that encompass all genres of music. Jackie has a sound and style of her own that gives us the feeling of Sade, Etta James, Gladys Knight and Carla Thomas. On all tracks of “Memphis Jewell” Jackie brings her own take and style to them.
After all is said and done “Memphis Jewell” is a very good CD filled with great tunes, fine musicians, singers and a big full sound. Catfood Records and Jackie Johnson have done a fine job on this project. Would I recommend that you buy this as a great blues CD? Probably not, but I will say that I will listen to “Memphis Jewell” many time in the future and enjoy it. Jackie Johnson is truly a Memphis Jewell.
Reviewed by Harmonica Joe