Monthly Archive for: ‘June, 2016’

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Morgan James live at The Great American Music Hall

Morgan James
Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, CA, June 19, 2016

Morgan James is the reigning queen of white soul, often referred to as blue-eyed soul. When she rips into” Fed Up On You” (James/Doug Wamble) from her last CD Hunter, you get vintage James – hard edged R&B with a serious backbeat, crystal clear vocals and strong female perspectives. When James sings “Bring me some water, I’m spitting you out”, you better not mess with her.

The title tune “Hunter” (Doug Wamble) straddle the fence between soul and pop. Again bass and percussion rhythms propel the song with some great organ runs.  James’ vocals are sharp, powerful and to the sensual point. It’s all brought together with guitar ace Doug Wamble’s sweet slide and intelligent arrangements.  James shares songwriting duties with Wamble and it’s in high gear on “Ransom”, a new heartbreak ballad with her signature blend of folk/pop/R&B. It features plenty of opportunities for James to stretch out her vocals, which can rip your heart out or take flight with gospel-like spiritualism. The mournful chorus of “I paid, but you killed me anyway” is belted like her idol Aretha Franklin, supported by a mournful organ.

Her voice is similar in power to the likes of Storm Large, Lady Rizo and Mariah Carey, who’s “Fantasy” she covers, adding her own style and quirks to it. James adds a blues phrasing to her songs, and on Franklin’s hit “Baby I Love You” (Ronnie Shannon), James brings out the funk buoyed by Wamble’s sensational slide work. James highlighted new material from her soon to be recorded CD (“Pity” and “Jenny”) before wrapping up another solid show with a tribute to Prince on his Grammy winning “Call My Name” and Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer, which was heavily influenced by 60’s soul.  James seems to have it all; a strong feel for 70’s female songwriters, a love for the souls and R&B, an extremely talented band, and an incredible set of pipes to back it all up.