Liz Mandeville Review…September 20, 2014.

LIS MANDEVILLE

HEART ‘O’ CHICAGO

BLUE KITTY MUSIC BKM-0013

CLOUD OF LOVE–THESE BLUES–DON’T DOUBT MY LOVE–SO CALLED BEST FRIEND–QUIT ME ON A VOICE MAIL–PARTY AT THE END OF TIME–SILVER LINING–TIC TOK–WHY WOULD A WOMAN SING THE BLUES–SMART WOMAN FOOLISH CHOICES–(LIFE IS LIKE A) WAVE

For her last album, Liz Mandeville ventured to the heart of the Delta to observe and absorb all the histories and mysteries of that part of the South where the blues came to life to create “Clarksdale.”  Her latest album is a natural progression of sorts.  For the many blacks who migrated north to cities such as Chicago after WWII to seek employment, the clubs in that city offered them an opportunity to play the blues.  Liz moved to Chicago in 1979 to study theater,  but her musical genes took over, and she has been associated with that blues mecca for four decades now.  That brings us to “Heart “O” Chicago”, eleven original cuts that showcases Liz ‘s sassy vocals and smooth guitars, and features special guests such as Eddie Shaw on sax, Charlie Love on vocals, and harp from Dizzy Bolinski and the legendary Billy Branch.

That soulful strut in her vocals kicks things off with “Cloud O’ Love”, simply brimming with the energy that Liz brings to all her works, this one featuring Eddie Shaw on sax as well as excellent B-3 work from Joan Gand.  A funky backbeat rides Liz’s vocals as she calls out a cheatin’ lover, doing the deed with “My So-Called Best Friend.”  Billy Branch adds the harp on this classic slice of down-home blues.  Liz’s ode to trying to give up smoking has a gospel feel, as we learn that “Every silver lining has got a black cloud.”  Charlie Love adds duet vocals on the swinging “Smart Woman, Foolish Choices,” because “at work she gets respect, but when it comes to romance this woman is a wreck.”  The set closes with a loping, Jimmy Reed-ish rocker, “Life Is Like A Wave,” and be careful not to get caught up, or “it might be the end of you.”  The harp is courtesy of Dizzy Bolinski.

We had three favorites, too.  Liz urges everyone to lay your troubles down and “sing like a crazy monkey on a Party At The End Of Time.”  Billy is back on the harp on this one.  Liz took a lot of flack early in her career from folks who called her out for singing the blues.  She gets the last word in this stinging funk blast, “Why Would A Woman Sing The Blues.”  She tells it like it is, but, sadly, not a whole lot has changed, because “I’ve been around since day one and I’m still paying my dues.”  Her scathing, extra-verse solo lets everyone know her feelings on this issue.  And, in a bittersweet look at the problems with social media today, Liz’s ex-lover breaks things off with the unkindest cut of all, when “He Quit Me On A Voice Mail” instead of face-to-face.  This one is done up as a classic soul number, with more sax from Eddie Shaw.

Liz Mandeville is so synonymous with the city of Chicago, she was named to their Blues Hall of Fame in 2013.  She has returned that favor with this outstanding set of originals that puts her squarely in the “Heart “O” Chicago.”  Until next time, Sheryl and Don Crow.

 

 

 

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