Review: Lisa Mills – Tempered In Fire
Posted on: Thursday, Sep 9, 2010
“Tempered In Fire”
A frequent visitor to our shores for about the last decade, Lisa Mills, the Southern belle from Mobile, Alabama, with a quite stunning voice, comes over on “Tempered In Fire”‘ like a full-throated female Otis Redding, with some Muscle Shoals soul and Nashville country touches for good measure, in the company of a great band, including her long-time associate Ian Jennings, who plays bass and co-produced the album; and the supremely talented Andy Fairweather Low on guitar.
Completing the musicians is New Orleans drummer Eric Heigle, who provides the necessary funk as would be expected, and the horn pairing of Nick Payn (saxophones) and Matt Winch (trumpet and flugelhorn). The ten tracks span a mix of country, blues and more, kicking off with the lovely “Tennessee Tears”, from the pen of fellow Alabama musician, Beverley Jo Scott – a beautiful country ballad with aching vocal from Lisa Mills. She again doffs the cap to her native Mobile, Alabama on the joyous “Keep On Smiling”, a hit way back for Southern soulful rockers Wet Willie – here given a lovely feel by the punchy contributions of Nick Payn and Matt Winch.
British writer and musician George Borowski contributes three songs, the first of which, the sparse “Blue Guitars Of Texas” features some sparkling guitar from Andy Fairweather Low, who seems to have a tone for every occasion! The pace is taken up on Borowski’s “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again”, a sprightly rocker with the whole ensemble kicking up a storm. The title cut, “Tempered In Fire”, has a smoky late-night jazzy feel, with the lady herself giving another superb vocal performance, aided and abetted by Eric Heigle’s tasteful drums and Fairweather Low’s guitar chords.
The band all chipped in to write the uptempo “Why Do I Still Love You?”, with a sort of strutting Motown meets Stax feel to it; “My Happy Song” is another quite beautiful arrangement, with again, a slightly jazzy feel, with solo on flugelhorn from Matt Winch. Taking on an Otis Redding song can be a disaster in lesser hands, but here Lisa Mills renders a truly fantastic take on the great man’s “These Arms Of Mine”.
Two lengthy songs end this fine album – “Countryside Of Life”, a country tune penned by Maurice R. Hirsch, with Andy Fairweather Low again providing more great guitar; and the closer is George Borowski’s third contribution, “Someone Very Close”, a soulful ballad, with a pop touch and hook . . . apart from it’s six minutes plus it would sound just great on the radio!
A great rootsy album of top songs and performances, recorded at Mike Thorne’s Rimshot Studio, from one of the classiest lady’s around . . . wholeheartedly recommended, I’ll be eagerly awaiting her next tour!