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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Yvonne Schmidt

Foolproof

Review by Lisa Palmeno

Buffalo’s fabulous Miss Y is back with a new CD sure to please all blues lovers, some who love country, and even gospel fans. Her first release since the soulful Nothing but Blue, Foolproof is sure to be a party favorite. Produced by Grammy Award-winner Tom Hambridge, the 10-track compilation offers hard-driving danceable blues, modern country with a twist, and slow deep blues ballads.

Schmidt definitely got “just the right sound” this time. Foolproof is a testament to the breadth and depth of what is included in blues music and all of its influences, plus a bevy of talented music veterans to make it real.

Hambridge adds vibraphone, percussion and background vocals to the CD; Ann and Regina McCrary provide the subtle background vocals; Tom MacDonald plays all bass tracks; and Kevin McKendree plays piano, B-3 organ and the Wurlitzer. Put out by Schmidt’s own label, Wild in Blue Productions, Foolproof was recorded at Vibe 56 Recording and mixed at Insanery Recording Studio, both in Nashville, Tennessee.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Right Track

The first track starts off with a full-bodied tune by Hambridge, Jim Lauderdale and Gary Nicholson. The band really gets off to “the right start” here, with Max Abrams’ horns and plenty of keys to get everyone ready for some more blues.

What You Gonna Do About Me?

This is pure Chicago blues. Featuring lots of easy vibrato in minor, Schmidt and Rob McNelly’s guitar dominate the ballad while the band fills in the background deep in the pocket.

Daddy is a Rocker

Probably the most fun song on the CD, “Daddy is a Rocker” is a country tune with lots of blues influences about a daddy trying to make it in the business.  Hambridge nails the high hat properly as Miss Y tells the story about the dad who “never turns anything down” because, “Right around the corner, I swear there’s fortune and fame/sooner or later we’ll all know his name/turn on the radio and you’ll hear his song/see my daddy he’s a rocker and we all play along.” The song is hit material, and Miss Schmidt sounds exceptionally cool on this one.

Born Under A Bad Sign
Schmidt pulls off the hippie-era guy band sound easily on this blues club standard that features Chris Tuttle on keyboards.
Give it Up

Written by Bonnie Raitt and made wildly popular by the Dixie Chicks, “Give it Up” is a girls’ demand that all be fair in love and sex, with a little extra information about how a girl really feels.  A long blues intro precedes a blues/country crossover version of the song. Schmidt’s vocals are both twangy and sultry enough to make jamming country hit work. Her sound is better and lovelier than ever, her smooth alto voice taking command without getting throaty or overdone. Raitt’s influence is clear on the vocals.

Come to Mama

Schmidt chose an old hit (written by Billy Mitchell and Earle Randle) to follow the country girls’ demand, and “Come to Mama” is a perfect choice for the bandleader’s sultry attitude and sound, with perfect timing, too, as she recently “tied the knot.”

Thank the Lord

Another highlight of the album is lucky (or holy) #7, “Thank the Lord.” This simple, slow blues/gospel Hambridge original showcases the three ladies, Yvonne, Ann and Regina. It is light and uplifting as Miss Yvonne sings “I thank the Lord for letting me stay around a little longer/Lord knows I love the life I live.”

Something Fishy

This song is traditional 12-bar blues done right, with plenty of melodic slide, easy high hat and cheatin’ lyrics as Schmidt decries “there’s something fishy ‘about my man…something I just can’t put my finger on.”

Fool Proof

The title track, another original by Hambridge, has the singer declaring “I can tell a lie from the truth, so don’t go messin’ with my heart because it’s fool proof, I’m fool proof…yeah…” Rock guitar work highlights a hard and deep blues that only gets played the last set. This is a great song.

How Many Times

This number gets to the point right away, with “How many times are you gonna leave me?” about a partner who “…who can’t be true no matter how hard you try.” Like “Fool Proof,” this tune is deep, hard blues, but this one has plenty of slide guitar and keyboards to help move the progression - solid, solid blues.

 
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