Sunday, November 4, 2018

#361 : Ms Zeno the Mojo Queen - Back in Love



2018 –Blue Lotus Recordings

By Phillip Smith; Nov. 4, 2018

I absolutely love the new release Back in Love, from Verlinda Zeno aka Ms Zeno the Mojo Queen.  I stumbled upon her music several weeks ago through a podcast I frequently listen to called Radio Memphis, hosted by Ric Chetter.  From the moment she started singing, I knew I had to purchase her new disc.  Her voice, soulful and powerful reminds me of a few of personal favorites: Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner and Sharon Jones.  Backed by co-producers Paul Niehaus IV and Kevin O’Connor on almost every instrument one could think of, and Gene Jackson on vocals, the wonderful Ms Zeno brings her A-game to every track.   

With a big blast of horns and a hint of strings in the back, title track, “Back in Love” initiates this record with that glorious Stax vibe and features guest vocalist Roland Johnson. “That’s How I Know” is electrically charged and dripping with soul.  Ms Zeno sings this with abundantly sweet emotion.  G Weevil makes a guest appearance on guitar for “Willie Brown”.  This is hands-down, one fantastic blues song, and I am totally smitten by her vocal delivery.  The lady can sing the blues, and that is a fact.  Tom Martin ( Zydedo Crawdaddys)  stops by with accordion in hand to lend a bit of Creole seasoning to the wonderfully funky “Mojo Queen”.  Like a heart-wrenching Otis Redding song, “Love is Like a Flower” is an amazing song and brilliantly vocalized.  The masterful harmonica stylings of Brandon Santini sets a roadhouse blues atmosphere to “Call My Name”.  An unescapable rhythm draws me right in, like a mosquito to a porch light.  “Gotta Get Paid”, swimming in hot buttery soul and slathered in high-energy funk, firmly keeps me glued to the speakers. 

One of my favorite albums that I’ve heard this year, Ms Zeno’s Back in Love is my pick for soul album of the year.  It’s absolutely fabulous!

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