Just when I thought all the ‘best kept secrets’ in British Blues were out, this landed in the post. It’s had some stiff competition for time in my CD player recently with Tedeschi Trucks, Gary Clarke Junior and the new Layla Zoe all competing for space and time but I keep coming back to Connie Lush. Her new release Renaissance really is THAT good.
Not that this Liverpudlian songbird is an up and coming youngster taking her first tentative musical steps. Connie has been making music for over 20 years and picked up many local awards along the way, memorably touring the UK in support of BB King with a stop off at the Royal Albert Hall. No lesser a pillar of British taste than ‘The Times’ described her as having “A voice like 3am whiskey…enough electricity to power the National Grid”.
The year 2014 saw Connie Lush take stock of her career and emerge with a new band and a CD rightfully named ‘Renaissance’ which is a treat for music lovers who just like things pure, simple, and packed with emotion. Those days when a smoking voice like Billie Holliday was all it needed to raise goosebumps thankfully live on.
The guitar intro that kicks off ‘Renaissance’ is as good as any melody found on any of the earlier CD’s mentioned (and we’re talking Gary Clarke Jt, Derek Trucks and Jan Laacks here for guitar competition – all top-notch players). Steve Wright is a master at plaintive intros that perfectly complement a haunting song, and introduce a, yes whiskey soaked, vocal performance. Disc opener ‘Lonely Boy‘ will have you feeling the pain of that lonely boy as he awaits a train ‘that never comes’.
It is the juxtaposition of Vocals and guitar that makes this disc such a gem. Sensuous guitar from Steve Wright that is always tastefully restrained and perfectly counterpointing the vocals. The two segue into one another so perfectly, as on the opener and again on ‘Don’t Cry For Me’. Wright sets up the riff and Lush takes it perfectly from there. I love too the slide/Dire Straitsy sound underpinning ‘I Don’t Say Goodbye’.
There are also some great up-tempo moments on here as ‘Shine a Light on Me’ rolls along with punchy bass from Connie’s husband Terry Harris and solid drumming from Roy Martin, whose credits on the drum stool include Barclay James Harvest and Aretha Franklin. Solid stuff indeed. ‘Falling Down Like Rain’ even has some Metal power chords with Lush showing that she is equally at home delivering a Rock vocal.
It’s really the space and restraint in the playing and production (nice work Steve Wright and Wayne Proctor) that make this such an enjoyable CD though. Space gives the emotion room to speak on this fine disc and speak fluently to the heart it most certainly does.
The twin stars of ‘Renaissance’ are undoubtedly the voice of Connie Lush and the jazz toned guitar of Steve Wright. It’s a match made in heaven and fitting that this is the combination bringing the disc to a simple yet stunningly effective close. Just when you thought the emotion couldn’t get deeper, in comes Lush sounding like she’s at the end of both that whiskey bottle and her dreams.
“The morning will come, and I’ll do what’s right. But give me ‘til then to give up this fight. I can’t make him love me, if he don’t. I can’t make his heart feel something it won’t”
It’s a stunning closer to a stunning disc and one that makes me hope a visit to Bonn/Cologne will be on the tour calendar of Connie Lush before long. One for all lovers of Blues/Jazz from the heart.