Richmond, Virginia, April 21, 2019 – One of the great things about traveling the Airbnb way is that you meet some very interesting people, on an almost neighborly and intimate level, in a short period of time! I have gotten to cook in some very well-stocked kitchens and love to taste and cook gourmet dishes to chow on with a smorgasbord of sound in the background. Check out my latest, recipe:
Imagine now, what you’d get when you marinate a down-to-earth, fine cut of talent with a sprinkle of Dolly Parton, a smidgen of Maureen McGovern, a dash of Stevie Nix, and a teaspoon of Cher? Mix all into a bowl with her lead-guitar husband “Boz”, funky horns (including a baritone sax), Hammon organ and solid percussion. Don’t let it simmer too long before firing it up, and you get medium-well done and tasty to your ears, the rangy Rochelle Harper (and her Mississippi band) jammin’!
She told me her music is “Americana” and while defined as “contemporary music that incorporates elements of various American roots music styles, including country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues and also often uses a full electric band”, to debate categorization is a whole other post. I’ll highlight the tunes that swooned me on recent road trips, transcending mere categorization. If you must narrow, I’d play several of the songs on my Contemporary Hits, Top 40 and jammin’ music radio stations!
Her 2014 solo effort, “Lilt” is in a class by itself, while her band showcases and performs under a more funky, free-form umbrella. The first song from “Lilt” is a mid-tempo rocker called “Bittersweet”. Its soulfully fulfilling because the lyrics are realistic and hook repeated often, “You’re the thing I shouldn’t do, but I know I wanna do anyway…” Next is “Stars Out” which brings Fleetwood Mac to my DJ mind. They could have changed the ending to a vamp-to-fade and gone on longer, IMO. I kept hitting ‘repeat’, trying to keep the feeling!!!
At this point, I am needing to reach for a lyric sheet because, like most great crooners, we mortals cannot always understand the heartfelt words! One of those occasions where, sometime in the future, you hear a cut and suddenly understand what they were singing all along!
The disc settles-down after that, into “Cajun Wind” and “Say”, two tracks that let her explore forks in her vocal road that may be more in-tune with that “Americana” thing; she sounds like Cher here, for the first time on my drive (she will again on “Angelina”), and I am just crossing the South-to-North Carolina border on I-95!
Suddenly, there I sat, while the road was closed for a still inexplicable reason – I-95 used to never come to a standstill as I remember it – I shut the music off, in frustration while we sat still for at least sixty minutes. There went my ETA of the day.
When we began to move fast again, Rochelle helped me find my favorite and a-pro-po jam, “Highway One”! Becoming a tune-wedgie, I’ve played it again and again. The guitar solo sounds a bit like that of Redbone on the classic 1971 song, “Maggie” and its brass from the outset gave my trip momentum like the legendary Memphis Horns section. Rochelle also covers Bobby Gentry’s “Ode To Billy Joe” on this album. I’d had enuff of that one growing up, but it might be insightful for a younger audience to listen to. On “Comin’ Home Again” we are happily greeted by Randall Bramblett’s Hammond B3, and throughout this poppin’ buster, his presence is prevalent like pew prayer in church.
Finally, Rochelle’s signature message song, I suspect, after having talked to her a few times at our AIRbnb Inn, is the reggae-rocker, “Universal Love” whose lyrics – and she wrote eight of the eleven songs – identify her as a strong “Rasta” goddess voice in a body of a natural Gulf Coast girl. Major props to Blair Shotts, whose solid drumming caught my ears, as a once-upon-a-time drummer. He does Motown accents really well!
When she first introduced herself to me I thought of Seinfeld’s “Rochelle Rochelle!” With wishes to hear newer success and happier for having met this couple, my rating is four-out-of-five, “Peace Within Music” signs, (like Rochelle’s Hippie pants) !
** Next post, I will revu the separate Band album, Mississippi Hippie Blues.
This video is a sneak-preview:
**Sureshot: Please remember to check out my other Rochelle-related review and other topics at the Mothership blog, achilliad.wordpress.com