Mar 07 2009
She’s Right, Tell Mama
Published by admin at 1:05 pm under Jazz
Your first experience of anything is a special event. The smell, taste, feel of whatever, is such a revelation and then you spend the rest of your life trying to recreate that one bright moment. And so it was for me with jazz when I first heard “Take Five”. It was urban, eye-opening, smooth, knowing, experienced and just plain darn cool. I’ve been trying to find another batch of music to make me feel that away for a long time.
I came pretty close when I took a listen to Tell Mama’s CD. The music is an amalgam of pop, jazz, blues and funk that manages to be more than the sum of its parts. Sure, all the regular jazz cast members are there: sax, Hammond organ, electronic keyboard and chanteuse up front. But the music is just different enough to make your ears perk up and ask for more.
Tell Mama have eschewed falling back on any of the old jazz warhorses out there. Instead, they have penned a batch of songs that comprise stories about tough or abandoned women, sex, feckless men and confused love without dipping into the sweet waters of sentimentality and self-pity. You will even find some half-decent poetry here and there.
Shelley Montreuil, the female half of Tell Mama, provides all the voicing for the songs. Her singing voice is a little thin, but it’s very flexible and she can make her tone intimate, husky or smooth as required. It works just fine for the lyrics on these songs.
The melodies are varied and interesting. The musicians are first rate players (Franc Van Oort, the other half of TM, plays great lead guitar). The production quality is excellent as well. Montreuil’s voice (when she isn’t playing sax backup) is front and centre, setting the mood for the entire album.
It’s hard to pick a few really good cuts from such a top shelf selection, but I really dug “Full Court Press of the Sun” and “Exit Sign”.
Summary: Definitely Juno material with not a weak song on the CD. Buy this one while you can.
5 Responses to “She’s Right, Tell Mama”
# Mamaon 07 Mar 2009 at 10:28 pm
Jeremiah, I forgive you for the time it took to get to our review! Your observations are honest, forgiving and touching. You have managed to grasp a piece of our essence and for that, I thank you.
# Jeremiah Sutherlandon 08 Mar 2009 at 9:32 am
I do my humble best. Hope to see you on the Junos next year.
# Phillip Victor Bovaon 24 Mar 2009 at 11:50 pm
Hello Jeremiah! Thanks for your very thoughtful review of the Tell Mama ‘She’s Right’ CD. It was my uncommon pleasure to produce a project with so many strong compositions.[14 no less!] Shelley and Franc are a gifted writing team and I won’t be surprised to hear that established artists decide to cover their songs. Juno sure sounds good to me.
Phillip Victor Bova
P.S. After reading many of the reviews on your site, I’d say you are more of a artistically passionate, highly motivated kinda curmudgeon:)
# adminon 25 Mar 2009 at 9:23 am
Hello Phillip. Thanks for your comments. I really enjoyed this CD and I hope Tell Mama have the time to crank out a lot more music over the years. You did a great job turning this recording into reality.
Thanks for the kudos on the artistic side. I suppose I am passionate since I review music and don’t get paid for it. The reward is finding the occasional gem this like one.
# Now Hear This – O’Reilly’s Pub & Restaurant » Blog Archive » Tell Mama rocks the house at O’Reilly’s Pub Perth – $5 coveron 28 Mar 2009 at 7:22 am
[...] “Tell Mama have eschewed falling back on any of the old jazz warhorses out there. Instead, they have penned a batch of songs that comprise stories about tough or abandoned women, sex, feckless men and confused love without dipping into the sweet waters of sentimentality and self-pity. You will even find some half-decent poetry here and there … Definitely Juno material with not a weak song on the CD. Buy this one while you can.” Jeremiah Sutherland Bullfrog Music Reviews Click here to read full review [...]