Sister Lucille Band, Alive

Sister Lucille Band, Alive, Endless Blues Records

“11 tracks that touch your heart, stir your soul and shake your booty”

Hugely entertaining stuff from this four-piece band from southwest Missouri. Entertaining with a nice twist here and there of serious comment about respecting women, social media and the dire state of the world. It’s a blues record, with plenty of blues, plenty of soul, a little jazz and a huge amount of heart.

Sister Lucille – consisting of singer Kimberly Dill, Jamie Holdren, guitar & vocals, Kevin Lyons, drums, and Eric Guinn on bass, complemented by a number of terrific guest musicians – have given us one very fine album of Jamie Holdren original songs along with Etta James’s classic W-O-M-A-N, and Don Bryant’s 99 Pounds. Dill puts her own sassy stamp on the James’ song in what is a more interesting arrangement than the original, with some nicely placed harmonies, tasty dollops of saxophone and organ, and a healthy serving of bluesy guitar from Holdren.

Holdren’s guitar work throughout is attention grabbing – not in the sense of overpoweringly playing as many notes as possible wherever possible, but in the versatility and subtlety of his playing. As well as the deadly accurate but house-rockin’ cigar box slide work on See My Baby, we find Holdren Santana-like on Devil’s Eyes, delightfully funky on Fussin’ and Fightin, jazzily supportive on Lost and thoroughly blues-soaked on Respect your Woman.

The musicianship, throughout, is very, very good, with arrangements that give full rein to the skill of the artists but which enable them to complement each other beautifully. The interplay between Eric Hughes’s stirring blues harp and Holdren’s guitar on Respect Your Woman works extremely well, while the horn contributions to Won’t Give It and Wanna Love You are classy and never become overpowering. We get some nice backing vocals too, from Reba Russell, who tastefully complements Dill throughout.

Centre stage of course is Kimberly Dill’s lead vocals. She’s something of a powerhouse, but with considerable control, technique and soul. Dill is a more than capable blues rock singer but is much more – we find her raw on See My Baby, sultry on Devil’s Eyes, sweetly melodic on Think About You and entreatingly earnest on Lost. In short, she’s dynamic and hugely versatile.

It’s great the way we’re getting some good socially-aware songs from artists these days and Sister Lucille serve up a few for us, without ever getting preachy. Respect Your Woman and W-O-M-A-N hit a timely note of women-power and the need for respect. The final song, Lost bemoans the poverty we find around us:

“People dying in the street…without any food to eat…trying to make ends meet…
Children who lost their moms and dads, moms and dads who lost whatever job they had…
We’ve lost our way”

And then points the way to some redemption where we’ve:

“got to help one another to try and make the world a better place.”

And Alive is worth a mention too, written to celebrate Dill’s emergence from a long spell of ill-health, with a confident note of hope for the future. It’s an appropriate title for the album – this is a band that is very much alive, hopefully with much more, at least as good as this, to give us in the future.