Vaneese Thomas review…August 15, 2019….

VANEESE THOMAS

DOWN YONDER

SEGUE RECORDS   SRVT2019

EBONY MAN–I TRIED–HIGHWAY OF REGRET–MAKE ME–SECOND CHANCE–MAMA HE LOVES ME–LIES–HANDLE ME GENTLY–LEGACY OF PAIN (FEAT. KEVIN BACON)–LAST KISS–GONE–DOWN YONDER

Memphis blues royalty is IN DA HOUSE following the release of the latest set from Vaneese Thomas, “Down Yonder,” from Segue Records.  Yep–she’s the daughter of the ol’ Funky Chicken and Funky Robot himself, Mr. Rufus Thomas, and she’s the sister to “Gee Whiz” Carla Thomas and keyboard master Marvell.  Some of the most renowned backing players in all of blues are on hand, too, including Shawn Pelton on drums, Will Lee on bass,  Charles Hodges on organ, and big sis Carla on backing vocals.  Trumpeter Marc Franklin and uber-producer Boo Mitchell did additional recording work at Royal Studios as well.

These original writes and co-writes from Vaneese deal with hope, heartache, injustice, and redemption, and the set opens with the field holler story of a Delta sharecropper who worked the fields hard, altho “his body and his soul was scarred,” that “Ebony Man.”  A sweet shot of STAX-ified summer soul has our girl coming to grips with the fact that it’s over, but realizing that “I Tried” to save things.  A bit later she’s looking back a bit too longingly, traveling down that “Highway Of Regret,”  augmented by violin from Katie Jacoby.

We had several favorites.  A breezy, uplifting romp has Vaneese telling us that “everybody needs a Second Chance, when it comes to love and romance,” with big sis Carla on backing vocals.  The set closes with two powerful, gospel-themed offerings.  “Gone” is a sparsely-arranged look at being headed “for my permanent home,” while the title cut has our heroine headed “where the air is sweet” and “where I can sing my song.”  Perhaps the set’s most intriguing cut is Vaneese’s duet with Kevin Bacon.  Based on racially-motivated Mississippi murders that remain unsolved after decades have passed, the singers pray for “justice, truth, and right,” to “break the chain of this Legacy Of Pain.”

Vaneese Thomas has performed all over the globe, and she helped to found the Swarthmore College Gospel Choir.  With “Down Yonder,” she makes a triumphant return to her Southern gospel, blues, and soul roots, for what is her most statement-making set to date!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Thanks for the amazing review! Could we get the details straight, though? Shawn Pelton is the drummer and Will Lee is the bass player. Also the trumpeter is Marc Franklin.

    Reply

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