Review: Cherry Lee Mewis – Southbound Train

Posted on: Thursday, Mar 25, 2010


“Southbound Train”

(CherryJam Music: CM02)

The second album from Colwyn Bay singer, Cherry Lee Mewis – now based in Bedford – contains a generous 14 tracks, highlighting her breezy, mainly acoustic-based blues, but with a jazzy tinge to some of the cuts – again with Max Milligan as her ‘right hand man’, as co-producer, engineer and mixer, and playing guitar and bass.

Cherry Lee Mewis has a warm, appealing voice, with a smoky lilt at times and sweet at others – proceedings open with a nice, swingy version of Koko Taylor’s “All You Need”, with some tasteful harmonica from Jeff Dakin, who features several times here; the following “Shake That Thing” has some lovely finger-picked guitar from Max Milligan, who turns to Dobro on the excellent “Midnight In Memphis” – again featuring Dakin’s harmonica.

The ragtime feel of Blind Willie McTell’s “Oh Lord Send Me An Angel Down” sees Marc Patching on Dobro and Milligan on acoustic guitar – leading into a jazzy interlude with a gorgeous vocal on the standard “Travellin’ Light”, with some quite delightful tenor saxophone from Andy Hamilton, and the original “It Means Nothing To Me” – her vocal here recalling the fragile beauty of Corinne Bailey Rae – a big favourite of my daughter!

Legendary blues lady Memphis Minnie’s “Kissing In The Dark” again has a nice swingy down home feel, with “Time Limits” given a country flavour with Jack Muir’s mandolin, and the lady herself contributing some harmonica. The excellent title track, “Southbound Train” rides on a great groove from Max Milligan’s three-string electric slide guitar – dare I suggest a little Seasick Steve influence here?

Elsewhere the dreamy “Dancing Like Diamonds” sees another strong vocal performance from Cherry Lee Mewis, with the versatile Milligan on Hammond B3 organ, guitar, bass and percussion; “Tried Everything” is a short and snappy country blues, with the bonus track “Something You Can’t Have” moving away from the overall feel of the album, and being in a more country/folk mode, and for me the best track, with heartfelt emotion in the vocal.