LADY BLACKBIRD - BLACK ACID SOUL - AN ALBUM REVIEW BY DAVE REGAN


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Picture yourself in a dark, underground basement club in the heart of New York’s Soho district in Lower Manhattan.  A gentle murmur pervades as the regulars and the few new visitors find themselves a table, make themselves comfortable and await the late night entertainment in the form of ‘some singer’.

Two guys amble on to the small, cramped stage, one walks to the piano that takes up over half the stage, the other carrying a double bass, positions himself on the opposite corner.
Sat aside a lone microphone on a stand, they begin to play .

A gentle, single note plucked from the double bass, quiet, almost unnoticeable amongst the murmur within the club. As it gets progressively quicker, louder and deeper a young woman steps onto the stage.

Tall, slim and stunning in an explosion of white lace topped with an equally explosive white afro, the voice that causes you a sudden intake of breath instantly reminds you of Nina Simone, no wait…… Ella,…..no, Amy Winehouse ? Some, or all, I’m not sure.

“Why you want to fly Blackbird you ain’t ever gonna fly”     Lady Blackbird.jpg (56 KB)

You could be right there, or you could have just dropped the needle on the first track of side A of the brilliant new album by Lady Blackbird, “Black Acid Soul”

It’s a brave soul indeed who not only tackles one of Nina Simone’s starkest tunes, ‘Blackbird’, but also calls herself Lady Blackbird into the bargain,” noted Blues and Soul at the time.

Simone released ‘Blackbird’ in 1963, at the height of the Civil Rights struggle. Almost six decades later, the killing of George Floyd, two days before the release of Lady Blackbird’s version, gave this new rendition a coincidental but no less stark, awful yet uplifting power.

It's an introduction to an album that is minimal yet rich, classic yet timely, the album connects backwards to Miles Davis (his pianist, Deron Johnson, plays Steinway Baby Grand, Mellotron and Casio Synth throughout) and forwards to Pete Tong (he made the Bruise mix of ‘Collage’ his Number Two Essential Selection tune of 2020) and, yes, Victoria Beckham – Matthew Herbert’s remix of second single ‘Beware The Stranger’ soundtracked the designer’s Spring/Summer 2020 Fashion show.

Lady Blackbird 3.jpg (59 KB)

Hooking up with the artist-turned-writer-and-producer Seefried, who’d been Grammy-nominated for his work on the debut album by Andra Day, he introduced her to “Nobody’s Sweetheart” and asked her to do a vocal. After hearing it for the first time, two takes later she nailed it.

That song, when he began playing it to people, stopped them in their tracks. “In fact, when I played it to my therapist, he started crying.” Says Seefried.

“When you break a therapist, that’s when you know you’re winning!” Lady Blackbird laughs.

While I could write about every single track on the album, I really ought to let you make the voyage of discovery for yourselves.

I will however point you in the direction of “It’ll never happen again” the track on the album that for me returns the stylus to exactly the same point again and again !
It’s an inspired re-invention of a Tim Hardin track that first appeared on the folk singers 1966 debut album. After adding her own power and personality, it is a soulful ballad to rival anything I’ve heard in a long time.

Closing the album is the title track, unusual in itself. “Black Acid Soul” speaks of “Jackson Pollack jams” and the mantric soul evocations of Hot Buttered Soul era Isaac Hayes.
The song became the title and the vibe prompting Lady Blackbird to say
“We used to hashtag #blackacidsoul, as our sub-genre of music. It just encompassed everything we were doing. It cemented all those ideas and genres in this made-up shit! And because ‘Blackbird’ is a great start to the album, because it gets dark and violent and goes somewhere spiritual, we wanted to tail the album with another expression of acid soul. So that became the title track at the end.”                    

                                                                        Lady Blackbird 2.jpg (12 KB)

For me this one of the most important albums of our genre in 2021. Its 11 tracks have a sound, feeling and attitude that speak of Lady Blackbird’s deep experiences in music, stretching all the way back to infancy.

To follow her path to the culmination of her journey will be an uplifting joy…..

Are you ready to fly with Lady Blackbird ?

Available from Rough Trade on 12" vinyl and Limited Edition Blue vinyl.

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