Blues Bytes

June 2009

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Lisa PhenixLisa Phenix’s second CD, Songflower Girl, is another impressive effort. The recurring theme is love, particularly mother-child. It’s good, organic music with crossover potential into country, album rock, folk, and bluegrass.

Held over from the first disc are Producers Lisa Phenix and Michael Roe (mandolin/guitars), with the third this time being Ralph Stover (one of the disc’s pianists). Special guest is Chuck Bond on trumpet. The band is rounded out with electric and stand-up bass, drums, dobro/banjo, violin, pedal steel and a second guitarist. As for production and natural sound, this one is right on. The band is as accomplished as on CD # 1, but the vocals integrate more effectively. They sound live, not overdubbed. Artwork is professional and colorful.

Phenix well-plays “Silly Little Mama,” a fitting sobriquet. She seems to draw influence from a couple musicians she likes, the muscular and diverse Texas singer/songwriter Carolyn Wonderland as well as the charming Tennessee bluegrass songbird Robinella. Starting on the open mic circuit in her hometown of Sacramento with Kate Wolf tunes, Lisa is now an effective artist who’s finished product is distinctly her own.

Songflower Girl is sprinkled with originals this time mixed with some co-written by band mates, a Grateful Dead tune, plus “Hosea” by Gregory Norbert. The album opens up and bright, well-sequenced in tempo and mood, expressive in feeling on quality canvass. Rockabilly gives way to High Plains Drifter-type music utilizing the guest trumpeter, thru medium rock, all well-wrapped with Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here.”

Phenix’s voice is always pitch-perfect, just a pinch of very fine grit. She really needs to be heard by more people, whether they agree her music has commercial potential or not. Packaging is consistent with Lisa’s personality and image just like the previous CD, be it the slow pace of life, outdoor environment, or classic cars in the northern California country. I can attest that her music reflects her real personality. You can tell music permeates anything she may be doing in life.

The performer’s first disc was Homegrown (reviewed for this publication in March 2005) which burst forth with an impeccable back-up band, pure lead vocals, and shiny production.

In addition to her two music CDs, her “Silly Little Mama” website  sells a We Feel box set including emotional intelligence playing cards (designed to help children identify and cope with their’s and other’s feelings), a music and movement CD, and instructions. Also available is a Christmas album, Holidays are for Hugging.

--- Tom Coulson
Radio Broadcaster/Musician

Click here for the Original Review Page

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