Review: Becca Langsford – Big Surprise

Posted on: Friday, Jul 1, 2011

BECCA LANGSFORD
“Big Surprise”
(self-release)

Originally from Cornwall, and now based in Plymouth, the 21 year old singer Becca Langsford has made a most enjoyable and impressive debut recording, co-produced by The Wildcards singer and guitarist Vince Lee, the major creative force here and Langsford’s musical partner. Becca sat in with Vince at a gig a few years ago – the two hit it off and eventually work started on this album – she is also featured singing on The Wildcards latest release, “When The Moon Shines Bright”. The sessions all took place in two different studios in Plymouth.

Langsford hails from a musical family, and here her father Ian plays harmonica on one cut, with brother Tim engineering and drumming on three tracks – the recording band is rounded out with some of the South West’s finest players and afore-mentioned Vince Lee ‘multi-tasking’ on guitar, vocals, double bass, ukulele, lap steel, Dobro, percussion and mandocaster! He also helped assemble the diverse selection of songs here . . . from old country blues to Southern soul and jump blues.

The opening Dion tune, “(I Was) Born To Cry” is a sparse doo-wop number, with her powerful voice to the fore, backed by handclaps, and the cornet of Ian Pettit; the pace is then taken up on the swing blues of “King Size Papa”, with some sparkling Vince Lee guitar  and notable contributions from Paul ‘Bomber’ Harris on Hammond B3, and the horns of George Comer and Ian Pettit. A real gem is the slow blues of Percy Mayfield’s “You’re In For A Big Surprise” . . . Becca Langsford’s voice ringing clear and true on top of Vince Lee’s biting blues guitar fills and explosive solo.

The song choices are taken back to the 1920s for a romp through the legendary Charley Patton’s “Some Of These Days I’ll Be Gone”, a glorious country blues with a gospel edge, driven by Vince Lee’s Dobro and mandocaster, and pushed along by Langsford’s brother Tim on drums; the frankly bonkers “”Do It This A Way” is a breakneck Squirrel Nut Zippers song delivered here as a ragtime ‘knees-up’ and great fun – with all but the kitchen sink thrown in!

A nice bluesy “Love Me Like A Man”, the famous Bonnie Raitt composition, is tailor-made for Becca Langsford’s smooth vocal, with her father Ian chipping in with some nice harmonica. The jazzy “Hot & Cold Running Tears” swings in fine style – with Paul ‘Bomber’ Harris’s tasteful Hammond B3 and the horns standing out on the Sarah Vaughan hit. The ensemble return to some old Delta blues for Blind Willie Johnson’s “Lord, I Just Can’t Keep From Crying “, with Vince Lee shadowing Langsford’s vocal, and more impressive guitar work on this dark blues.

Possibly the show stopper on “Big Surprise” is soul giant William Bell’s big hit “You Don’t Miss Your Water”, delivered here pretty much stripped down to start with just acoustic guitar and keyboards, the horns then kicking in as the song builds, and again a vocal performance that belies Becca Langsford’s tender years, and then another top electric solo from Vince Lee; the closing Dinah Washington tune, “My Man’s An Undertaker”, with its wry lyric, brings to a close a most enjoyable debut from a young lady who seems sure to move up the pecking order of lady vocalists in double quick time on the evidence of this album.

GRAHAME RHODES

www.beccalangsford.com

Available at rootscd.com – http://www.rootscd.com/beccalangsfordCDbigsurprise.php

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