Shane Lamb, Disengage
Catchy, soulful, and uplifting pop is hard to find, so I’m glad I came across this disc. (It had gotten lost for months in the shuffle on my desk–sorry, Shane.) A certain old-fashioned rootsiness puts Shane Lamb a bit outside the current mainstream, wearing, as he does, his Tom Petty influence prominently on his sleeve, even down to the vocal style at times (“I Would”), but his vocals tend to be smooth and understated. Lamb has clearly taken inspiration from some of the greats, but his warm hooks are his own; these tracks fit comfortably like a favorite sweater, but one that, through some magic, look pretty snazzy too.
Stacie Collins, Sometimes Ya Gotta…
It’s produced by Dan Baird, with Jason and the Scorchers’ Warren E. Hodges all over the disc, so it’s no surprise that Stacie Collins’ newest effort rocks and crunches; yet somehow it disappoints, and it comes down to songwriting. There’s a thin, and admittedly subjective, line between the tried-and-true, and the merely derivative. These songs, full of brash energy as they are, settle too meekly on the far side. I love strong female rockers (see the next review), and on the strength of this album, I’d go see Stacie Collins live, with or without roots-rock royalty backing her up. But blasting out of my stereo speakers, Sometimes Ya Gotta… just made me feel how much I’ve heard all this before.
Kentucky Thunder, ‘Bout Damn Time
Four kickin’ female singers with a smokin’ band behind them, cranking out rockin’ blues and soul—what’s wrong with this picture, other than a bunch of dropped final g’s? Not a thing. Kentucky Thunder’s new disc, a live set that’s, unbelievably, their debut release after 14 years together, features almost all originals. But they kick it off with John Hiatt’s “Paper Thin,” one of the great neglected rock songs of our time. Would this prove to be a best-foot-forward gesture signifying much weaker original material to come?
With many bands it would have, but these ladies have the courage of their convictions and influences. They write songs that could have been 60’s soul hits, as well as catchy blues-rockers that obviously cook in concert—because this polished-sounding disc was recorded live (at 3rd and Lindsley in Nashville earlier this year). Loaded with luscious multi-part harmonies and wailing but not show-offy lead vocals, this album is a feast for the authenticity-starved soul. The humanity of it is a tonic in the age of hyper-produced mechanistic Auto-Tuned ersatz soul.