Alexis P. Suter is a big woman with a big and surprising voice. She possesses a powerful bass/baritone voice that could easily be taken for a man’s, and sometimes is. She wields that remarkable voice to produce amazing blues and soul music on her third album, Love the Way You Roll (which hits stores August 12).
Suter’s roots are in gospel and she also performs as Alexis P. Suter and the Ministers of Sound in that genre. Two of the members of the gospel band are also members of the Alexis P. Suter band, background vocalist Vicki Bell and drummer Ray Grappone. The other members of the band are guitarist Jimmy Bennett, who also wrote some of the songs, and bassist Peter Bennett. John Ginty guests on keyboards and Hammond B3 organ.
Suter also often opened for (the late great) Levon Helm at the Midnight Ramble Sessions in New York, and she has the sort of extraordinary talent that Helm attracted to those legendary shows. On Love the Way You Roll, Suter is solidly on the secular side of things.
“Nuthin’ in This World” opens things up with a rocking number that shows off Suter’s voice and skill nicely in combination with Bennett’s sharp guitar. The next song, “25 Years,” mines classic blues material with lyrics like “25 years sitting in the jailhouse, and I can’t raise no bail.” The pace is still rocking with Bennett doing a great job on guitar and Grappone nailing it all down on the drums.
For the soulful “Anything,” Ginty provides precisely the right touch on Hammond B3 to accompany the guitar, and Suter proves she can sell a song with the best of them.
“Big Mama” is one of my two favorite tracks on the album. It’s playful and fun and reminds me of the blues queens like Big Mama Thornton and Ma Rainey. There’s also excellent slide guitar on this one.
“Love the Way You Roll” is pure swamp blues, with Suter’s voice reaching amazing growling lows, more great slide and a marching, pounding drum beat that just won’t quit. “Gonna’ Love You” lets the bass and guitar show off a bit as Suter gets sultry, while “Waiting” again shows she can handle a slower, soulful song and features a fantastic electric piano and B3 middle from Ginty.
As mentioned earlier, Suter sometimes reminds me a bit of Thornton, whom she covers on “You Don’t Move Me No More,” where she lightens things up nicely and gives us another classic women’s blues number.
“It Ain’t Over” sees Suter telling it straight up with a bit of humor and a great vocal duet with Vicki Bell, who she also complements well on the funky “Hang On.” Track 11, “Them Days,” with more restrained keyboard and guitar accompaniment, has a different feel from the rest of the CD – lighter and more in the traditional blues ballad mold.
The last song is Slim Harpo’s “Shake Your Hips” and it will get you moving, as Suter proves this song was meant for her.
While every musician on this CD is superb and the mostly original material is strong, it is Suter’s one-of-a-kind voice that makes this a completely original project. I honestly have never heard any female artist who sounds just like Suter and that is why you need to discover her for yourself as soon as you can!
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