JJ Thames review…August 24, 2016…

JJ THAMES

RAW SUGAR

DECHAMP RECORDS

MALACO MUSIC GROUP

DCH 30003

OH LORD (FEAT. BEN HUNTER AND JOE SEAMONS)–HATTIE PEARL–I’M LEAVIN’–LEFTOVERS–WOMAN SCORNED–ONLY FOOL WAS ME–BAD MAN–HOLD ME–DON’T STOP MY SHINE–DON’T FEEL NOTHIN’–PLAN B (ABORTION BLUES)–RAW SUGAR–WANT TO FALL IN LOVE

JJ Thames is a Detroit native, but she cut her musical teeth down in Jackson, MS, on the “chitlin’ circuit,” with players such as Marvin Sease.  She’s been a  backing vocalist for a very eclectic list of bands, including reggae outfits such as Outlaw Nation and Fishbone, which definitely broadened her horizons, but she’s at her best when she’s belting out classic down-home blues the way they were meant to be sung.  Her latest release for DeChamp Records is “Raw Sugar,” thirteen original cuts done in collaboration with producer and guitarist Eddie Cotton, Jr.

There is so much good music herein, let us get started.  Up first is a beautiful original of JJ’s, and it’s as far from the blues as Sunday morning is from Saturday night.  “Oh Lord, I want you to help me,” features Joe Seamons on acoustic guitar and Ben Hunter on mandolin, and is a strong traditional gospel number.

She changer gears rapidly, with the juke-joint-rockin’ tale of gettin’ rid of a low-down dog, “I’m Leavin’  first thing in the morning!”  Another no-good lover gets his walkin’ papers, feeling the Hell-fired fury of the “Woman Scorned,” only this time, “I’ll take half of your possessions and you can keep your sad goodbyes!”

JJ knows her way around a ballad and a slow-jam, too.  Having no intentions of becoming “the other woman,” she tells it like it is–“I don’t do Leftovers–I want my own!”  “Hold Me” finds her giving her lover yet another chance, while the pain of a broken affair brings her to the stark realization that “The Only Fool Was Me.”  These latter two cuts are fine examples of good, old-school, “torch” songs.

We had two favorites, too.  The moral dilemma following an unplanned pregnancy after the babydaddy bails has JJ torn between doing what her heart tells her, or “signing the dotted line” for “Plan B (Abortion Blues).” And, pounding piano from Darryl Sanford over a frenetic beat pushes the down-home tale of “Hattie Pearl, make the men walk a country mile!”  One cannot listen to this one without making the inevitable comparison to “Miss Annie Mae” Bullock, either!

JJ Thames is another of those dynamite, big-voiced artists who can sing any style asked of her, and sho’ nuff sing it well.  Getcha some “Raw Sugar” and see how sweet the blues can be!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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