Heart of Memphis
Michele D’Amour hails from the Seattle area. She started by playing piano and singing in church. In her early teens she was a published poet. She soon began writing her own songs, and singing with several bands; and in 2017 won the Grand Prize in the John Lennon Songwriting Competition. This is The Love Dealers fourth recording the last being 2018’s “Wiggle Room”.
In 2018 the local Washington Blues Society awarded the Love Dealers with three nominations including best album, best songwriting and best bassist. The band includes D’Armour, lead and background vocals; Patrick McDanel, bass; Jeff Cornell, guitar; Dave Delzotto, drums; Brian Olendorf, keyboards; and Noel Barnes, tenor sax.
While in Memphis on a promotional tour during IBC week the band recorded these tracks at the legendary Royal Studios in Memphis. The recording was engineered by producer Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell; and mixed and mastered at the Strange Earth and Love Studios in Seattle by Steve Feasley. Seven new originals were written or co-written by D’Amour. Also included is a classic cover.
The set opens with a Latin rhythm as D’Armour sings of “Another Sleepness Night” while her man is away from home. “Dirty Pool” is about a woman scorned. How can anyone be so mean? D’Armour’s vocal is convincing.
Two songs are currently receiving airplay. The alluring D’Amour is suggestive as she sings “Come On Over”; featured is some fine piano and a horn arrangement from Olendorf as guest trumpeter Greg Lyons takes his solo. “From The Cradle To The Hearse” features another horn arrangement from Olendorf as Lyons is joined by trombonist Greg Schroeder.
“No Time” includes some fine guitar from Cornell, and a great bass solo from McDanel. The title track “Heart of Memphis” features sax man Barnes.
D’Amour introduces “a half cup of bass” from McDanel, “a pound of fatback drums” from Delzotto, “four tablespoons of boiling guitar” from Cornell, a “pinch of organ” from keyboardist Olendorf, and “a half pint of horn” from Barnes. The band brings King Curtis’ 1967 recipe “Memphis Soul Stew” to a boil on this outstanding version.
The set closes with the gospel inspired “Strange Angels” as D’Amour suggests that she and the band are ministers of the soul. D’Armour is a great songwriter, an excellent vocalist and fronts a fine Seattle based ensemble.