Monday, January 9, 2012

THE Real Deal reviewed by Harmonica Joe Poluyanskis

THE Real Deal
Sharon Lewis & Texas Fire
Delmark Records
13 tracks/60:22

“The Real Deal”, released by Delmark Records, is Sharon Lewis’ debut CD on her own. Previously she was a guest vocalist on Dave Spector’s “Live In Chicago” CD/DVD. On this recording Sharon was a powerful standout addition. Lewis’ upbringing in Texas exposed her to gospel music as a choir member. Another influence to her music knowledge was Tina Turner’s great R&B style. Moving to Chicago put Lewis in touch with the blues scene which in turn resulted in her forming her own band, Texas Fire, in 2005.

The list of tunes on “The Real Deal” includes seven songs written by Sharon Lewis. Her lyrics take us into her world and also touch on social issues of the times. Lewis’ vocals are of the type that we want to hear on a true blues recording. There is the presence of that raw blues feeling tempered by the gospel go to church quality. Lewis has a powerful and raspy sound that adds her flavor to her songs.

Joining Lewis on this recording are the members of her band Texas Fire. On lead guitar is Bruce James doing a swell job on most tracks of the recording. He is a real compliment to Lewis’ vocals. Adding the drum line and backup vocals is the very talented Tony Dale. Melvin Smith stands out on bass while Deitra Farr adds some really fine background vocals. Roosevelt Purifoy is a huge plus with the organ and piano. I must mention that the Chicago Horns also add a lot to this great bands sound.

Guest guitarist Dave Spector, on three tracks, brings his outstanding talent and sound into the mix of this recording. This is very evident on “You Can’t Take My Life” which an outstanding track on the CD. With lyrics such as “I’ve got a lot of living to do, you can’t take my life –I’m going to find a new man – you go back to your wife” tells us that this is really about the blues in our life. I guess we can also say that it is a social statement.  Take a good listen to this tune. By adding Roosevelt Purifoy’s piano talent along with Spector’s guitar work this tune makes for some great listening.

“Mojo Kings” is an upbeat song with some racy lyrics about mojo kings. On this track special guest Billy Branch treats us to a taste of his awesome harmonica licks. This tune is a welcomed plus to “The Real Deal”. This recording is a good mix of styles of songs that showcase Sharon Lewis’ vocal as well as lyrical talent. It also lets us see that here band is a very compatible mix for her style. I really did not care for the addition of the tune, “Ain’t No Sunshine”, but this is only my personal opinion.

“The Real Deal”, with Sharon Lewis & Texas Fire is all that and more. It is the real deal. Truly this is one recording that you can kick back and enjoy.

Reviewed by Harmonica Joe Poluyanskis

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