Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Rae Gordon Band: “Wrong Kind Of Love” (2019) CD Review

Wrong Kind Of Love, the new release from Rae Gordon Band, is full of good grooves, powerful and soulful vocal performances, and some bloody great work from the horn section. If you are looking for some blues-based music to make you rise from your seat and shout “Hell yeah,” you are going to want to pick up a copy of this album. It features original material, most of it written or co-written by keyboardist Pat McDougall. The band is made up of Rae Gordon on lead vocals, Pat McDougall on keys and vocals, Kivett Bednar on guitar and vocals (Bednar also produced the album), Joseph Conrad on bass, Ed Pierce on drums, Allan Kalik on trumpet, and Scott Franklin on saxophone.

The disc gets off to a great start with “Comin’ Back For More,” a tune with a delicious groove and a positive sound. And when Rae Gordon begins belting out the lines, the power of her voice is exciting, intoxicating. “I just want to get next to you/Nothing else will do/If you’re going to put me out/I swear I’m going to scream and shout/So don’t you lock that door/I’m only comin’ back for more.” And with the horns responding and adding their support, how could things be better? This is tremendous fun. The positive vibes continue with “Don’t Look Now,” and you will find yourself smiling even as she sings “Don’t look now/Your ship’s starting to sink.” This woman is here to kick ass and put you in your place. And oh man, I totally love those backing vocals, which came as a delightful surprise the first time I heard this track, echoing “Don’t” and then “Look now.” When Rae Gordon sings “Now don’t you worry about me,” well, I don’t think there is any danger of anyone doing that. This is a person who can certainly take care of herself. What a voice! And I really like that work on keys in the second half of the track. This band is grooving and moving.

Rae Gordon delivers a soulful vocal performance on “How You Gonna,” a gorgeous slower number. That moment when the horns come in to create a full sound is wonderful. “How you gonna tell me, tell me she’s better for you/How can you say it’s better for me too?” This track also features more good stuff on keys. “How you gonna tell me, tell me there ain’t no other way/How you gonna tell me, tell me that I’ll be okay/How you gonna tell me you won’t walk through my front door/Like you did a thousand times before.” Then “Might As Well Be You” comes on strong, like a party bursting into your home to show you a good time. “Just buy me one more drink and then it might as well be you.” Ah, a declaration of true love, that. There is some great energy to this tune.

“Sea Of Blue,” written by Rod Furlott, begins with a cool, slow groove, with delicious work on organ over it. Rae Gordon’s vocals come in after a minute or so. She addresses a love that is gone, asking “Baby, baby, baby, baby, why did you have to go/And leave me to drown in this deep dark sea of blue?” This person is so vivid to her, so clear, that we feel he is in the room with us. The electric guitar shares her lament in its lead section, calling out to this person too, to the point where an answer would not be entirely surprising. And perhaps that strange ending is some sort of answer, a wave drifting in. The next track, “Wrong Kind Of Love,” then begins with something similar to that ending, but soon tears open to become a lively number with some great stuff on horns and of course another strong vocal performance, the power behind that voice threatening to burst from our speakers and rip right into us.  And, you know, I doubt anyone would mind the ensuing carnage.

“How Much I Love You So” is a wonderful slow dance, a song to make you sway with your baby. An honest and sweet love song. “I wish I was a poet, baby/So I could tell you how I feel/How to write you a sonnet, maybe/Show you my love is real/I try to put it down on paper/But it sounds so insincere/How can I put into words/The way I feel when you are near.” That’s followed by “Got To Have You,” which has a more somber tone, those horns paving the way for Rae’s vocals. This is a darker love song, with Rae Gordon singing, “What is the use/Nothing I can do/To stop myself from loving you/I try to hold back/I try to be strong/One look from you and my will is gone.” I love that trumpet, which for me is the heart of this track.

“Last Call” is a fun, jaunty number about that special time of the night when the bars are ready to kick out their patrons, and she is likewise ready to end her relationship. “Well, I’d rather be alone/Than stuck with someone like you/So it’s last call for alcohol/And last call for you too.” She continues the metaphor with lines like “The taps have run dry” and “Turn off the ‘Open’ sign.” She gives us a delicious vocal performance, but for me the horns are really what make this track stand out. We are treated to wonderful leads on both saxophone and trumpet. Oh yes! Toward the end, Rae Gordon takes that familiar bartender line and applies it to her man: “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.” This track was written by Rae Gordon and Pat McDougall. The album then concludes with “Get Right With The World.” There is more than a bit of rock to this tune, and it features a cool bass line and a great, driving drum beat. “If you feel a deep dissatisfaction/The time has come to take action/Don’t be afraid to turn the page.” I think a lot of people are feeling a deep dissatisfaction these days, and need a call to action. “Boys, make room for the girls.” Hell yes, it is time for some female energy, particularly in the White House, don’t you think? I love that spirited playing on keys.

CD Track List
  1. Comin’ Back For More
  2. Don’t Look Now
  3. How You Gonna
  4. Might As Well Be You
  5. Sea Of Blue
  6. Wrong Kind Of Love
  7. How Much I Love You So
  8. Got To Have You
  9. Last Call
  10. Get Right With The World
Wrong Kind Of Love was released on December 3, 2019.

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