Blues Music

Teresa James ‘With A Little Help From Her Friends’


Teresa James, With A Little Help From Her Friends, album cover

Teresa James, With A Little Help From Her Friends

By Mike O’Cull

Grammy-nominated blues diva Teresa James takes the Beatles’ songbook from Liverpool to Texas and beyond on her new release With A Little Help From Her Friends.

The record comes out January 20th, 2023 on Blue Heart Records and guides listeners through complete stylistic reinterpretations of ten Beatle classics by James and her band The Rhythm Tramps. Produced by Terry Wilson and Kevin McKendree, With A Little Help From Her Friends is a fan’s tribute to the songs of The Beatles and the American musical styles of blues, roots, and soul. The combination works amazingly well and James sends these often-heard tunes into new territory and new levels of emotion.

Along with her partner Terry Wilson, James recruited new band members to join them on this project. Acclaimed producer and keyboardist Kevin McKendree and drummer Richard Millsap came onboard and were accompanied by backup vocalists Lucy Wilson and Nicki Bluhm and a special guest spot from emerging star Yates McKendree. This potent crew was more than up to the task of launching these songs into musical zones they don’t normally reach and James’ big boss vocals give them a whole new vibe and appeal.

Teresa James came up in Houston, Texas, where her father and grandfather, both old-school guitar players, got her into music early on. She began playing piano at the age of five and never stopped. She’s recorded with Tommy Castro, Eric Burdon, Spencer Davis, Randy Newman, Lee Roy Parnell, Neil Diamond, Walter Trout, Stephen Bruton, JP Soars, and a host of others. She’s also performed live with heavies like Levon Helm, Eric Burdon, Delbert McClinton, Marcia Ball, and Doyle Bramhall, Jr.

These days, James lives in Los Angeles and fronts The Rhythm Tramps, a blazing blues outfit with whom she has toured all over North America and Europe and played important music festivals including Notodden in Norway, Moulin Osprey in Holland, Tampa Blues Festival, Main St. Arts Festival in Ft. Worth, TX, and Portland’s Waterfront Festival. As a unit, they’ve earned a Grammy nomination, two Independent Music Awards, and two 4-Star reviews in DownBeat. Vocally, Teresa is an expressive force to be experienced and few who hear her ever forget her.

James opens the record with a roadhouse rock and roll version of “Ticket To Ride” that she not only sings the daylights out of but also throws down some fine barrelhouse piano on. As soon as she starts singing, the whole concept of this record makes sense and it’s wild how easily these songs take on a new character. James and her band reshape this one with some blues guitar, a little pounding piano, and a boatload of soul.

“Ticket To Ride”

“Don’t Let Me Down” becomes a sultry vintage R&B tune when James gets a hold of it and it’s absolutely delicious. The groove sits on a tight, sixteenth-note feel and a fine and funky electric piano part that both help James propel the tune directly into your heart. Her vocals are nuanced but packed with power and she turns this old-school classic into a new one.

Another tune given a drastic transformation is “Happy Just To Dance With You.” Teresa gives it a sweet, Memphis soul treatment that gets topped off with some beautiful B.B. King-ish guitar work. James purrs out the lyrics over an evocative arrangement that’s tender and alluring.

James and her Tramps do a sublime job of reinventing this material and find many new facets to explore in these eternally-popular tracks. “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away,” “Oh Darlin’,” and “Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey” all take on fresh lives and feels in James’ most-capable hands. With A Little Help From Her Friends takes on the most famous songbook in rock and roll and succeeds in a major way. Highly recommended.

Teresa James website


Source link

Related posts

What’s Different About Turnpike Troubadours 2.0

Kurt Jerry


Kurt Jerry

George Strait Is Prepping for a New Album

Kurt Jerry

Leave a Comment