Jazz Review first became acquainted with singer songwriter Lisa McClowry at the time she provided vocals for the track ‘Melting Into You’ by Nick Colionne on his excellent 2008 CD ‘No Limits’. A year later Lisa reunited with Colionne when she featured in the documentary film ‘When It Comes From The Heart The Journey Of A Song’ that described the journey of the making of a song from the seed of an idea, to the writing session, on to the recording process and then finally to the live performance. The film also included the Grammy-award winning writer Jim Peterik who, as a founder member of the band Survivor and writer of the seminal ‘Eye Of The Tiger’, needs little introduction. Now McClowry and Peterick have collaborated for her exciting new solo album ‘Time Signatures’. When I recently talked to Lisa from her home in Chicago I first asked how this musical partnership with Peterik had originated.
She told me that it all began seven years ago when Peterik was at the Borders store in Oakbrook, IL to promote a book he had written. Lisa went along, had her book signed but at the time never mentioned to him that she too was a musician. Later, through a mutual friend, she sought out Peterik’s opinion of her music and without delay he asked her to come into the studio to perform some tunes. As Lisa elaborated, "I was hired by Jim to sing a demo of the song ‘Fascination With Fire’ for the purpose of it being pitched to a movie. As it turned out the song didn’t make the movie but I loved it so much I included it on my 2006 recording ‘Diary of A Chameleon’."
Since then McClowry and Peterik have honed a song writing partnership that Lisa describes as "magical". "Musically" she said "it is almost as if we are able to complete each others sentences. When we write we are totally open and honest with each other. The fit we have seems to be so natural."
I commented to Lisa on Peterik’s ‘Lifeforce’ project for which she co-wrote the song ‘Unconditional Surrender’ and wondered how the tune had found its way onto the ‘Time Signatures’ CD.
"This is a tune", Lisa recalled, "That has become something of a signature song for me in live performances with Jim Peterik’s Lifeforce. As we add a national dimension to our original Chicago fan base, we are discovering just how much ‘Unconditional Surrender’ is appreciated by those who come out to see us. With this type of response, we thought it best to include it on the ‘Time Signatures’ CD as well."
Although possibly best described as a fusion of pop and adult contemporary, in terms of genre, ‘Time Signatures’ is an album that is difficult to define. Given Lisa’s diverse influences which include Sade, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Ann Wilson (from the band Heart) this perhaps is not surprising. I asked what her take on it was.
"We didn’t want to be fixed into any one genre" she told me "so the fact that there is a cross-over in musical styles is quite deliberate. Not only that this is a collection that has been in the making for the entire time Jim and I have been writing together. It’s a musical evolution."
I divulged that of the twelve choice tracks I had already identified the easy grooving title cut and the hauntingly beautiful ‘Come Dancing’as instant favorites. I inquired which of the songs gave her a special feeling.
"The positive audience reaction we always get from ‘Waiting For You’ puts it right up there," Lisa said, "and also for a number of reasons ‘Born Twice’ is very much in my mind."
She went on to tell me that as well as the gutsy album version, ‘Born Twice’ has been produced as a ‘club mix’ and a music video by the same name will be released this month. The song is also the backdrop to a new short film, ‘Vampire’s Dance’, which comes from a series titled Tom Holland’s Twisted Tales made in the best traditions of shows such as The Twilight Zone. Not only that, Lisa stars along with Shaun Benson who plays the part of the handsome vampire.
"I’m now signed to NuGroove", she revealed, "and the label’s President, David Chackler, suggested to famed horror movie director / writer Tom Holland that my music might be a perfect fit with what he was trying to do with his Twisted Tales series. After hearing the song, Holland then wrote Vampire’s Dance with me and the song in mind. In addition to the song being featured I was also asked to play the role of an unsuspecting patron at what turns out to be a vampire bar. Vampires seem to be a popular theme right now and the opportunity has given me the acting bug. I would really like to do more."
In this respect I contemplated what, for Lisa McClowry, the future might hold and she was effusive in her excitement about what comes next.
"Jim and I already have some tracks in place for the next album and we will continue to add more. As I said, another movie is in the works and in terms of performance we would really like to appear in more places. We were recently in LA for the KSBR gig where Steve Cole, Mindi Abair and my good friend Nick Colionne were all on the bill. We did ‘Waiting For You’ and got a wonderful response from the audience."
Released on June 22 through NuGroove Records, ‘Time Signatures’ is all set to propel Lisa McClowry to the next level of musical stardom.