Laurie Morvan’s sixth and most polished release, continues to move away from an angry blues rock attack to a smoother, more strictly blues-based guitar accompanying her songs and lyrics, which now have more of the focus than on her earlier efforts. And yes, she is becoming a stronger songwriter. Don’t kid yourself. She can still wail away on her axe, with a clean tone, and tons of fiery solos. The overall package, though is much more refined than she was even a couple of albums back.
Morvan won A Blues Music Award for best self-produced CD, Fire It Up in 2009 sandwiched between two BMA nominations in 2012 and 2007. That DIY approach can be traced to Laurie’s difficult childhood in a rural Illinois town where she, her mother, and stepfather built their home with their own hands. After getting a degree in electrical engineering and having earned private and commercial jet pilot licenses, she moved to LA, taking an aerospace job. She began to play in rock’ n’ roll cover bands, quit her day job, and fell in love with guitar playing, practicing 8-9 hours a day. Laurie says, “Playing lead guitar is a lot like doing a life-long dance of seduction with your true love. It’s just as important to know when to shut up and listen as it is to hoot and holler, when to tease and when to please, when to be tough and when to be tender”.
For this outing, Morvan released her reins and sought out one of the best blues producers, Tony Braunagel, who in turn recruited his “go to” players – Mike Finnigan and Jim Pugh (keyboards), Barry Goldberg (piano0, Bob Glaub (bass), while he played drums. Those musicians are backed by five background singers, including Laurie’s partner, Lisa Morvan. Morvan has a smoother, less gritty vocal delivery than many of her peers. While she sings a bit like Marcia Ball, she has more range and a broader emotional depth.
“My Moderation,” with some fine interplay between Morvan and Mike Finnigan’s B3, kicks off the album. “Twice the Trouble” is a solid blues-rocker and then slow, Magic Sam-like blues emerge in “Stay With Me.” “Money Talks” has several clever lyrics and features some nice piano from Goldberg. The title track is both a guitar showcase and a vehicle for Jim Pugh’s keyboards. The strongest cut is “The Man Who Left Me” as Morvan delivers a series of lyrics before the listener learns that the subject is her father. When she follows with “Shake Your Tailfeathers,” her guitar lines nod to the late B.B. King.
Morvan achieved success with her own band and self-production. With Braunagel’s production and this supporting cast, she’s gone to an even higher level.
- Jim Hynes
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