There is an immediate clue to the direction of Dana Fuch's 3rd album, Bliss Avenue from the cover shots. Gone are the close ups of the luscious flowing locks, replaced by an atmospheric but dark cover, all stripped bricks and concrete floors.
On the 12 exceptionally fine original tracks Fuchs shows that her vocal has undergone something of a transformation as she has switched from the sultry siren on Proud to Beg to something of a tequila soaked mistress. If you are looking for comparators think Beth Hart, or if seeking a longer lineage, Melissa Etheridge at her powerful best. Fuchs is that good.
The lady is surrounded by musicians of the highest calibre, trusted guitarist Jim Diamond impresses hugely again with the quality and breadth of his playing. Of equal stature is the all round keyboard skills displayed by Glenn Patscha. The rhythm section are perfectly in sync and it is all rounded off by superb backing singers.
So to the music, a real cornucopia of styles all moulded round a strong Bluesy feel, there are elements of country, a sprinkling of gospel and beautiful balladry.
Opening tile track lays down a real marker for the ensuing 11 songs, this one tears out of the speakers and grabs you instantly as Fuchs delivers a brash gravelly vocal that jumps all over Diamond's riff soaked melody. No let up in the pace on following track How Did Things Get This Way as it roars along on greased rails, all heavy Bluesy licks and a low down rhythm and hot key runs.
First gear shift comes with Handful Too Many,this is alt country with a sparkling twang of a guitar sound and dense keys wrapped around the Fuchs vocal that weaves a great story. Another gear shift on Livin' on Sunday, this is where the gospel hue surfaces and what a joyous romp it is too. Great lyrics and wonderful backing vocals lending to the vibe and as you would want, totally apt handclaps. You will be singing this one for sure.
Track 5, So Hard to Move, the first of the simply beautiful ballads and a song where Fuchs opens up her inner thoughts with a searing vocal delivery and narrative that deals with the recent loss of her brother. The melody created by the brilliant keys and subtle Diamond chord runs and clipped solo lift this to the highest of levels.
Pace and quality never slacken off with more country vibes and another super ballad Baby Loves the Life. Then just when you think this album cannot get any better it does just that. The closing three tracks are superb in their own way but put together they encapsulate pretty much everything Dana Fuchs and her accomplished band are all about.
Keep on Waling is a true muscular Blues rock out, aggressive clipped chords from Diamond and a pulsating backline rhythm.. Penultimate track, Vagabond Wind has an equally Bluesy feel but is much more of a slowburner, an infectious tune with guitar and keys providing a great platform for Fuchs to stride it with another raw evocative vocal. Then album closer Long Gone Game takes us out where Bliss Avenue came in, a real gem of a song with pace changes, a real groove and another flawless solo from Diamond.
Blissful album from a prodigiously talented singer, lyricist and musician. Surely this will take Fuchs to the next level. And with the likes of Diamond and Patascha embellishing everything with great splashes of colour from vibrant to light shades the lady cannot go wrong!
The album is so accessible, I have written this review after just two listens, such is its power to reach out and pull you in!
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