Blue Pearl Records Artist: Deb Callahan, Sweet Soul | New Release Review | October 5, 2015
I just received the newest release, Sweet Soul, from Deb Callahan and that’s exactly what it is. Opening with Big Love with it’s solid strut, Callahan establishes her ground vocally joined byMike Finnigan on keys, Reggie McBride on bass, Tony Braunagel on drums and Allen James. Very nice! I Keep Things Running has a solid footing in the blues with bass vamp and and nicely woven keys by Finnigan. Nice backing vocals by Teresa James, Finnigan and Leslie Smith warm the track and a slick guitar solo from James punches it up. Rocker, Shackin Up features Johnny Lee Schell on slide guitar and a cool bass line from McBride drives this track and Deb rides the wave vocally with clarity and authority. Soulful ballad, I Am Family, will have strong cross radio appeal with a taste of country and nice vocal harmonies from Teresa James and Finnigans articulate piano work. Laid back, Sweet Feeling, is a soulful pop track with strong support from Finnigan. Born To Love You screams 60’s soul. Possibly my favorite track on the release, Callahan really hits it, supported by Finnigan on keys, Braunagel on drums, McBride on bass and Lydia Hilliard on backing vocals. James lays in a plucky guitar solo with attitude. Excellent! Seven States Away has a super walking bass line from McBride and real nice vocals from Callahan. Finnigan gives this track legs on keys and Braunagel is tight on drums. Tom Waits’ Way Down In The Hole is one that has been done by a number of artists, being the theme song for terrific crime drama, The Wire. This track maintains it’s Latin flavor and Callahan shows that she can hold down lead vocals where other super stars have been. James’ lead guitar solo on this track is really nice and Jimmy Powers adds a nice harp line. Finnigan smooths in a nice keyboards solo and Teresa James, Finnigan and Schell add super backing vocals. Step Back is a southern soul track with intermittent soft and biting rhythms. A cool keyboard interlude by Finnigan sets the track apart and Callahan jumps up kicking. You Don’t Know Your Mind is a high stepper and Deb’s vocal phrasing is spot on. James springs on his guitar solo and shakes it nicely and Finnigan dabs on keyboard like an artist dabs on paint. Very nice! Ike Turner’s Crazy Bout You Baby, calmed down just a little with a 2 step kind of feel and some chickin pickin guitar riffs from James. Callahan keeps a soulful attitude giving it an interesting texture. Slow blues ballad, Slow As Molasses, Sweet as Honey gets really gritty as Callahan digs deep for Pearl like feelings. James plays guitar response to her blues call and also sails with a smooth soulful guitar solo over clever piano work by Finnigan, making this my favorite track on the release. Doctor John’s, I Been Hoodood has a strong funk feel but Callahan has such a soulful voice it gives it a fresh feeling. This is a super closer to a strong soulful release.