Although placed in the blues style, this recording really defies categorization. It spans jazz, ballads, blues, gospel and boogie. This Arizona pianist & vocalist is a truly versatile artist. Lisa Otey grabs the listener by the ears and just won't let go.
Vocally, I found some echoes of Maria Muldaur and instrumentally the spirit of Marcia Ball. Lisa has a jack-hammer left hand and she dishes out a boogie style that just won't quit. On the other hand, there is a tender version of "Willow Weep For Me" in which the vocal is gentle but her piano is rooted deeply in the blues. "Willow" also features some wonderful violin work by Heather Hardy who plays in a blues vein "a la" Papa John Creach or Richard Greene. Heather gets another kick at the cat on the title tune "Gimme Some a Yo' Sugar,' a double entendre blues that's destined to put a smile on your face. Lisa Otey proves to be a master of a delightfully risqué vocal technique, a required element of good blues.
"Scratch My Itch" finds Lisa laying down a beautiful walking bass boogie figure with the harmonicas of Bob Corritore and Rochelle Raya adding to the fire. The singer's gritty vocal is both funny and full of feeling. The group romps their way through a dozen tracks finishing with the gospel flavored "Thank You For Loving Me." I especially enjoyed the timely "Got My Modem Workin' " which is a twist on the Muddy Waters classic. I'm not known for being a fan of electric bass but Rob Paulus works very had at turning me into a convert.
Lisa Otey and her band are booked for performances in Canada and France this summer. This busy gal finds time to write for the Tucson Blues Society's "Desert Bluesbeat" and works as musical director with a theatrical organization featuring the performances of special education students.