This week’s list of new releases had one major name and was extremely thin on good options for a review. Unfortunately, Michael Kiwanuka’s new album, “Love & Hate” has been held up for a little bit longer, so that limited my choices, even further. Though Miles Davis is usually a shoe-in to get picked, this new release features the addition of mediocre hip-hop lyrics over Davis’ music. The only other acts I was somewhat familiar with, were Beth Orton, Catfish & The Bottlemen and Lacuna Coil. After sampling all of the bands on my list, I narrowed the possibilities down to three. I was leaning toward Clare Maguire and Malcolm Middleton, but ended up with Bonnie Bishop, who I knew nothing about, and her latest release “Ain’t Who I Was”.
“Mercy” begins the album with something that takes the mind back about forty years, with a sound that is a little Maria Muldaur and a little bit more Bonnie Raitt. The guitar and organ bring the blues along with some savory soul.
The soul-country feel of the heartfelt “Be With You” is song from a man’s perspective. Bonnie shows-off the various textures of her remarkable voice on this track about that once-in-a-lifetime love and how it is all you want when you find it.
“Looking For You” has somewhat of a 70’s feel for modern times, like Shelby Lynne or Lake Street Dive. Bonnie’s vocals seem a bit softer and smoother, than the first two tracks, which makes you want to roll in it, like a freshly manicured lawn.
“Done Died” unearths relics of the old traditions and builds new blues on that hallowed ground. This is a wonderful tune that finds Bonnie going in the direction of Susan Tedeschi, with a distinct spiritual flavor.
The gospel-country of “Poor Man’s Melody” speaks of hope that is dependent on personal growth. I really appreciate the mix of different styles of music, that is apparent on this cut.
“Broken” is another cut that really has a Shelby Lynne vibe. The lyrics are deep and deal with making a change for the better, but not always for the easier.
The singing on “Too Late” is quite impressive with some long notes and impeccable control. The music is 70’s soul with rock guitar, maybe Donna Summer doing a Rick James tune.
From my first listen to “Ain’t Who I Was”, I instantly envisioned the title track being performed on ‘Hee-Haw’ back in the late 70’s or early 80’s.
“Not Cause I Wanted To” is another country song about the hard choices we sometimes have to make, and how sometimes those choices cost us some good things. Bishop sings in a whisper at points, which speaks decibels louder than anyone screaming the same lyrics.
Vintage soul permeates “You Will Be Loved” with some Lucinda Williams influence, and incredible vocal control, to finish-out the ten song album.
After listening to “Ain’t Who I Was”, for the first time, I did some research on Bonnie Bishop, and was a little surprised at what I discovered. The singer/songwriter, has been making music for many years and has released six albums to date. She started as more of a country rocker from Texas, who had relocated to Nashville to write and perform. Her big break came in 2012 when Bonnie Raitt included “Not Cause I Wanted To”, which Bishop had co-written, on her Grammy winning album “Slipstream”. After taking a break to go back to school to further her creative writing ability, she got a call from David Cobb, who had heard some of her music. Cobb is a producer, whose credits include the recent huge releases from Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton and Sturgill Simpson, so when he encouraged Bishop to go more of the soul route, she listened. I won’t say this is an instant Grammy winner, but Bonnie Bishop has found a perfect blend of the country she loves and the soul that is just part of her delivery, and obviously there are others who hear it, too. I would suggest “Ain’t Who I Was” to anyone who grooves to Shelby Lynne, Bonnie Raitt or Susan Tedeschi. That’s What I Know, So That’s What You Know!! Enjoy!!
HAPPY LISTENING!!!! 😉