Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Vanessa Collier: “Honey Up” (2018) CD Review

Vanessa Collier is an incredibly talented singer and songwriter and saxophonist, and on her new album, Honey Up, she delivers some uplifting and exciting blues and soul music. The album, her third, features mostly original material (with just one exception). Joining her on this release are Nick Stevens on drums, Nick Trautmann on bass, Sparky Parker on guitar, Laura Chavez on guitar, William Gorman on keys, Quinn Carson on trombone, and Doug Woolverton on trumpet.

The album gets off to a great start with “Sweatin’ Like  Pig, Singin’ Like An Angel.” This is exactly what I need, a song that feels like a party with some strong female vocals leading the festivities. This track is some blues, some gospel, and a lot of soul. And with this ongoing heat, a song about sweating is just perfect. Plus, I love that contrast in the line, “Sweatin’ like a pig, singin’ like an angel.” Oh yes, let’s not let this heat hold us down. This track, in addition to a lively vocal performance, features nice work on keys and guitar. And then the horns take turns at lead, giving us some wonderful stuff, particularly when they seem to be dancing, tangled together, finishing each other’s sentences. Now the entire band sounds like a group of angels, and my apartment (where I’m listening) has become a church. The fun then continues with “Don’t Nobody Got Time To Waste.” “If you’re early, then you’re on time/If you’re on time, then you’re late/Oh yes, you’re late/And if you’re late, well, then you’re fired/’Cause don’t nobody got no time to waste.” This song sounds like a celebration. You can raise some roofs with this music, and that would certainly not be a waste of time.

“Honey Up,” the title track, comes on like a glorious burst of funk, and those horns are absolutely delicious. This one has a great, fun groove. “Yeah, you want me to honey up/And kiss your behind/You want me to honey up/This is where I draw the line.” I dig this tune’s jam. I bet Vanessa Collier puts on an excellent concert. She has a pretty serious touring schedule, so maybe I’ll get the chance to check her out at some point. I certainly hope so, especially after listening to a track like “Honey Up,” one of the album’s best. It’s followed by “Percolatin’,” a seriously cool instrumental track with a funky heart of its own and room for several musicians to shine. Vanessa Collier then changes things up with “Icarus,” a sweet and beautiful tune, with something of a light folk vibe mixed with soul. It comes as a delightful surprise, and is another of the CD’s highlights. There is plenty of excellent vocal work on this track, with Vanessa providing her own backing vocals. Vanessa also plays acoustic guitar on this one.

She then goes to a thumping, loud energetic number titled “The Fault Line,” one I found myself singing along to. “We’re standing at the fault line/We don’t even know the reason why.” This one is rock, with some good work on guitar and more great stuff on horns. That’s followed by “Bless Your Heart,” which is more firmly situated in the blues. Then “You’re A Pill” is a fun number with delightful work from the horn section and more wonderful vocal work. I particularly love the jam at end. “You Get What You Get” is also fun, with a good, positive attitude. “Now I’m not saying that you should just accept everything/But sometimes you’ve got to decide when to step in the ring/But don’t make life hell for those you are around/Just change it or accept it, and stop making that awful sound/’Cause you get, you get what you get.” The album concludes with its only cover, a version of Chris Smither’s “Love You Like A Man,” here titled “Love Me Like A Man” (as it was when Bonnie Raitt covered it). Here Vanessa Collier is getting more heavily into the blues, slowing the song down and stretching it out, really exploring it and jamming on it. There is some fantastic work on saxophone here. “I need, yes yes yes, I need, I need someone to love me/Just don’t, don’t put yourself above me/And love me like a man.”  

CD Track List
  1. Sweatin’ Like A Pig, Singin’ Like An Angel
  2. Don’t Nobody Got Time To Waste
  3. Honey Up
  4. Percolatin’
  5. Icarus
  6. The Fault Line
  7. Bless Your Heart
  8. You’re A Pill
  9. You Get What You Get
  10. Love Me Like A Man
Honey Up was released on July 6, 2018.

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