Review: Lisa Mills – I’m Changing

Posted on: Saturday, Jan 3, 2015

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Lisa Mills – I’m Changing

(Mills Bluz Records)

Here is without doubt one of the best releases of 2014, and perhaps fitting it is my first review of the new year . . . the Mississippi-born; Mobile, Alabama-based Lisa Mills beautifully meshes country, gospel, blues, soul and more together . . . with the necessary heartbreak at times and joy at others.

A frequent UK and Europe visitor over the years Lisa Mills has delighted audiences both at home and in many parts of the globe. “I’m Changing” is as the sleeve notes say, “a re-recorded, re-engineered, reconsidered take on her 2005 album of the same name” . . . and what a treat it is from start to finish!

She has gathered most of the original players together, with her musical partner-in-crime, our very own Ian Jennings, adding his upright bass and also co-producing the album with Mills. The core band features such great musicians as Rick Hirsch, Corky Hughes, Pat Murphy, Jimmy Roebuck, to name but a few. The recording took place on ‘home turf’ in Mobile at Back Door Studios and was partly funded by a Kickstarter drive.

The 12 tracks are mainly Mills originals or co-writes, with only two covers. It starts in fine style with the glorious stripped-down Southern soul of “Better Than This/I Don’t Need You Anymore”, which immediately highlights Lisa Mills magnificent voice, accompanied by some lovely understated electric guitar from Rick Hirsch; the following “I Don’t Want To Be Happy” is in a similar vein and again with just the right amount of heartache and joy. The live favourite, “I Need A Little Sunshine”, co-penned with Ian Jennings, is a highlight here, with the band firing nicely, and Britt Meacham’s guitar to the fore.

The beautiful title cut, “I’m Changing”, has a quite brilliant, dreamy vocal with Mills acoustic guitar joined by some lovely fiddle from Pat Murphy; the swampy “Shake It” – a co-write from Mills, Jennings and Corky Hughes sees the latter adding some fabulous baritone guitar; it is followed by the stunning a capella gospel of “Tell Me” – just Lisa Mills quite stunning voice in all its glory and on its own!

The two covers are both very well suited; firstly the very old country blues from Rev. Robert Wilkins, with his slide-driven “I Wish I Was In Heaven Sitting Down” – Corky Hughes supplying the resonator guitar work; this super album finishes in glorious fashion, with another tune that Lisa has long covered live – Jimi Hendrix’s masterpiece “Little Wing”, that is spread out over 6:29, but never overstays its welcome.

If there is any justice in the musical world this lady will be massive sooner rather than later . . . catch her when she comes over again this year. Without doubt one of the finest female singers and performers around!

GRAHAME RHODES

www.lisamills.com