Sister Lucille
Tell The World

With the liner notes and the one sheet both making mention of the facts that Tell The World, the second release by Sister Lucille, comes to us from a mighty team of women, I’d feel left out if I didn’t show the ladies some love of my own. Right from the get go, fifty percent of the disc’s songs were female written; the album was recorded, engineered and co-produced by Dawn Hopkins and Reba Russell – affectionately known as the “Blue Eyed Bitches”; the recording is released on Blue Heart Records, a female run label co-owned by Sallie Bengtson and Betsie Brown; with publicity and radio managed by Betsie; the CD design was done by Debra Clark Graphics; and since the opportunity for some shameless self-promotion is throwing itself at me, I will take the liberty of saying the disc is being reviewed by Mary4Music, a website developed by my partner Mary Roby.

Sister Lucille consists of Kimberly Dill on lead & background vocals; Jamie Holdren on guitar and lead & background vocals; Reed Smith Heron on bass; and Kevin Lyons on drums. For this project they were joined by Chris Stephenson on B3 and keys; Peter Climie on saxophone & horn arrangements; Will Paladino on trumpet; Freedman Steorts on trombone; Al Gamble on organ; Shawn Zorn on percussion; and Reba Russell on background vocals. Tell The World contains ten tracks of “Memphunk” – a very cool term the band coined to describe their style of play – with six of them being band originals.

For those of you who may not exactly get what type of music “Memphunk” refers to, the opening and title track – “Tell The World” (T. Adams/B. Webb) – should quickly clear that up for you – It’s a perfect blend of Memphis soul and downright funk. The track finds Kimberly anxiously wanting to ‘tell the world’ how excited she is about finding love. Helping raise that excitement to a much higher level, it features the nucleus of the band in a frantically funky groove led by some wickedly wild whammy bar antics from Jamie; and an equally savage performance from Al (on his only appearance) on the organ, as he leads the fabulous horn section through the soulful contribution. Opening with this one, makes me think it was the band’s way of saying “Okay, now that we have your attention………”.

On a song she wrote, – “Why Not You” – Reba Russell joins Kimberly on the vocals and the duet puts on a powerful presentation of a powerful song. With lyrics centering around the idea of “anything he can do, you can too” Reba and Kimberly repeatedly challenge each other to step up to the task with the chorus line of “Why not me, why not you?”. In the meantime, with scorching slide guitar, thunderous rhythm, and profound percussion going on behind the ladies, Jamie, Reed, Kevin and Shawn have their own powerful thing going on.

On an original ballad titled “My Name Is Lucille”, Kimberly emotionally takes on the alter ego of B.B. King’s guitar.

…..”My name is Lucille, and I love the King,
He knew just how to touch me, and how to make me feel.
He was gentle and soft, he did all the right things,
He knew just how to bend my strings.
My name is Lucille and, and I Love the King”……..
describes the love that existed between them, and
…..”He saved my life one night, in a fiery blaze,
He ran into the building, he pulled me from the haze.
We’ve never been apart since that night,
Until the day he went to the light.
My name is Lucille, and I love the King”…..
tells of that night B.B. ran back into a burning club to fetch Lucille.
(FYI, that fire took place in a club in Twist, AK and it was started by a woman named Lucille. You can hear B.B. tell the whole story – as only B.B. can – on his 1967 recording titled “Lucille”).

I often hear an A cappella intro to a song that sounds so beautiful that it makes me think I could thoroughly enjoy the whole song being sung that way. Then what usually happens once the music kicks in, I wind up being quite happy it wasn’t. “Ready For The Times To Get Better” (A. Reynolds) is both of those situations. Interestingly, Kimberly and the band did nothing to change the song and it sounds just as beautiful as it did when it was originally sung by Crystal Gayle close to fifty years ago. With her slight country accent and the band nailing the cool country groove they’ve got going on, I could easily see, and happily hear, Sister Lucille doing some real good cross genre stuff.

On another band original titled “My New Lovers’, Kimberly boasts about not being a one-man woman, then she proceeds to mention some of those men by name while sassily rhyming some of their abilities and characteristics with their names. Now I’m wondering what the heck happened to guy she couldn’t wait to ‘tell the world’ about?

The disc closes with a smoking shuffle titled “Soulful Dress” (M. McAllister/T. Vail). It’s a dance floor filler with the hopping rhythm being kicked up a few notches with frolickin’ piano leads from Chris; hot horn blowin’ from Peter, Will and Freedman; and lively blues guitar licks from Jamie. In the meantime, Kimberly’s flat out putting all the ladies on call ’cause when she struts into the party in her dress “that’s cut way above her knees, with the V-cut back and spaghetti straps instead of sleeves”, their men will most certainly fall to their knees. My addition to that is “if you don’t think she can pull it off, look no further than the album’s cover”.

Other tracks on this excellent recording are four more originals titled: “Everytime (sic) I Leave”, “Breaking My Heart”, “Montezuma Red” and “Devil In A Red Suit”. – Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro

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