With only six songs, Ginger St. James’ debut is a bit closer to an EP than a full-fledged CD release. Having said that, though—very few artists pack as much punch into a full-length recording as St. James squeezes into Spank, Sparkle & Growl.
The title, in fact, sums up the contents very well indeed. St. James is a sassy chanteuse who’s alternately coy and downright brazen, and political correctness aside, there’s a burlesque quality to both her material and the way she delivers it. “Boom Boom Room,” the disc’s third track, is a double-entendre ditty with a raunchy stripper beat, and St. James ditches the "double" about halfway through for some rather explicit exhortations to a tentative lover. “Devil Dance” is even more blunt, but it’s all in good fun—as St. James says, “Don’t worry baby, It only hurts at first …” “Swing About You” is equally naughty, though the lyrics are cushioned by a jaunty swing arrangement that sounds—superficially, it turns out—quite innocent.
The Grinders aren’t known names but they’re excellent throughout, particularly the guitar work of “Snow-heel Slim,” who adds subtle embellishments here and there that add an extra dimension to each tune. Also of note is Greg Brisco’s work on keys, though drummer Andre Tellier and upright bassist Tyrone Ramsey are no slouches either, negotiating the driving train-rhythm beat that powers “Lonely Cryin’ Blues” and the sweetly-swaying “Lullaby” with equal aplomb.
But it’s clearly Ginger’s show, and she’s an absolute force of nature, strutting her stuff with abandon yet tempering her delivery with irresistible charm that keeps the rather salacious content delightfully naughty rather than nasty. It may not be suitable for all audiences, but Spank, Sparkle & Growl is a scintillating, sexy delight … Ginger St. James is definitely one to watch!