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Album Review

TERESA JAMES & the rhythm tramps
Come On Home

Whooweee! Who is this Teresa James and why have I not heard of her before this album? It's not like she hasn't been there. I mean, she has a raft of previous releases and fans all over the country, so how did she avoid me? I search hard for music this good and it takes Betsie Brown at Blind Raccoon to gather me into the fold. Yup. Fold. There are evidently a whole host of fans out there and while I have not met a one, I feel a kinship. And I'll bet every damn one of us has been knocked on his or her ass by this lady and her crew, for James is not one to do things alone. It is just not her style. And they, in return, look for talent like hers. It doesn't come around that often.

Upon receiving Come On Home in the mail, I read the one-sheet (one sheet of bio and particulars for those who don't know the term) and had my mind set for blues, for blues it seemed to be. In fact, the opening and title track, Come On Home To Me, reinforced that mindset. I settled down for a bluesfest. What I got was a rockfest and not just rock but blues and soul and rock 'n' roll for James and the band rocked and souled till the cows came home. Here you got boogie (Long Way From Texas), blues (Come On Home To Me and a stellar flashback to the fifties and early sixties R&B ballad, Forgetting You, with a horn section straight out of Memphis or Muscle Shoals), and a few tracks which fit into the genre of just music because though they have influences, they (like the cow) jump over definition and the moon.

The album has taken up residence in my car lately because of tracks like Still Got the Message (in which the band lays down a groove and a half) and She's Got a Way With Men (straight out of sixties' Motown) and the pop-soul That's Just Love, but mostly because of the outro--- the final track--- All I Wanna Do Is Dance, a New Orleans-rhythmed tune of funkdom which, not oddly, makes you want to dance too.

My first thought when I heard this all the way through was Bonnie Raitt. Ms. Raitt has built a long career playing similar styles of music and has done right well at it, thank you. So how surprised was I when I visited James' site to find a quote written by Ms. Raitt praising the talents of Ms. James? Not at all. James has the voice, the chops and the taste. All she needs is a band to take her higher. Beware of spoiler: she already has one.

One thing among many that stands out on this album is the songwriting. I have no idea who Terry Wilson is (though after hearing this I am damn well going to find out), but he co-wrote most of the songs on the album and let me tell you, it ain't easy to write one the stature of these, let alone an album's worth. Mr. Wilson, watch yourself. I will be following not only Teresa James but Terry Wilson from this point forward. I expect more. In fact, I already want more from you both. You have created a monster.

So I end this listening to All I Wanna Do Is Dance, looking at the back of the CD cover which shows a picture of Ms. James doing just that. Something tells me she dances as good as she sings. And there aren't all that many who can do that.

Frank O. Gutch Jr.


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