Lisa Haley is best known as the leader of the Zydekats, a hot Southern California Cajun/zydeco band, and as Queen Ida’s erstwhile fiddler. This is her first recording apart from the Zydekats, and it is a simply marvelous outing that marries the blues, country, zydeco, contemporary gospel and other styles. Haley’s low, rough-edged, highly expressive vocals and head-spinning fiddle chops paint each track a different, appealing color. Keb Mo’s production skills and guest spot on “Rock River” spread icing on the cake.
Haley is a powerful, up-front alto in the spirit of Rosanne Cash or the Indigo Girls. That style suits the music on this disc perfectly, kicking the spice level up a notch. Vocal tracks are overdubbed on several selections, permitting her to craft dense waves of harmony that pull the listener in blissfully. “No $” is a very catchy tune driven by a cheerfully doinging jaw harp; the uilleann pipes give a Celtic cast to “Always Be Your Guide”; and “Zydecosis” threatens to infect everyone with an urge to get on the good foot.
This album is categorized under “Blues” as a matter of convenience, but there is so much more to Haley than a blues shouter or Louisiana fiddle queen. There are some unusual elements on the disc, such as the odd guitar loop on “A Lot To Learn” and the macabre vibe of “Angel in the Backseat.” “Shenandoah,” the only non-original tune here, begins a cappella with long tones, out from which the instruments slowly peek.
Lisa Haley is poised to break out on the roots-music market in a big way, with an assured sense of place and history that wisely informs her artistic decisions. This is an exceptionally well-made album that will appeal to a wide range of listeners. Recommended without reservation.
Track Listing: Dangerous Happy; Have A Little Faith; Rock River; No $; Goodbye Sun; Always Be Your Guide;
Zydecosis; A Lot To Learn; I Want the World; Angel in the Backseat; Let Jesus Be Your Blanket;
Personnel: (Collective:) Lisa Haley, vocals, fiddle, mandolin, jaw harp, keyboards, percussion; Keb Mo
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith. We hung out at my Aunt Kate's Soul Food restaurant in Harlem after the matinees at the Apollo where I listened to their stories. I knew I wanted to be a jazz musician from then on. My mother wanted me to play piano, but my Aunt bought me a guitar. I've been playing ever since.
At my mother's early prompting, I first sang Blue Velvet at my Catholic elementary school...and all the nuns came running in and asked me to sing again, so I knew I must have sounded pretty good. I've been singing ever since.
I met Tony Bennett in Miami and he inspired me to return to New York. He was a great mentor.
The best show I ever attended is mpossible to say, I've seen so many great shows. From Tony Bennett to Pat Martino, Return to Forever to Weather Report...I've seen some great performances.
My advice to new listeners is don't let jazz intimidate you, the music has something for every listener and it is our American gift to the world.