2018 – Cheyenne James
By Phillip Smith; June 21, 2019
Burn It Up, the debut album from Texas blues singer Cheyenne James is one powerful and soulful ride. James, an accomplished stage actress, dancer, and fire-eater pours her whole self into each of the ten outstanding performances. Her band consists of guitarists Dave Carter and Mark May, bassist Rock Romano, harmonicist Steve Krase, keyboardist Randy Wall, drummer Jim Brady, saxophonist Eric Demmer, and Lamar Boulet on trumpet and flugelhorn.
I love her remarkable cover of Little Milton’s “Grits Ain’t Groceries”. Cheyenne’s stellar vocal delivery has a nice Stax-like backing with the horns and keys. With a taste of old-school Nashville, James fearlessly belts out “Gypsy Mama” while Krase tears it up on harmonica. When she sings Van Morrison’s “Steal My Heart Away”, I just have to stop everything and listen. It’s such a beautiful song, and so beautifully executed. Sung with an abundance of heart and emotion is the sublime original “What Does It Mean”. Cheyenne’s performance on this gem is reminiscent of the late, great Amy Winehouse, and Boulet’s trumpet performance is mesmerizing. The album comes to a smile-inducing close with a smooth rendering of Willie Dixon’s “You Know You Love Me Baby”.
Burn It Up is a definite ‘keeper’. I immensely enjoyed listening to this album, and very much look forward to hearing more from Cheyenne James.