Hope Waits’ self-titled debut release on Radarproof Records is a
stunning concoction of blues, jazz, and soul. Waits possesses an
incredible timeless voice that is at times enchanting, seductive, and
vulnerable. Raised in the Deep South, Waits brings a lot of the region’s
heritage of blues and soul to her music.
The opening cut, “I’ll Be Satisfied,” is a mid-tempo highlight with
Waits’ sultry vocal punctuated by a perky horn section. “You Crossed the
Line” is a fiery track about a woman scorned. “Fortune Teller” is a
gentle, highly personal blues penned by Waits and producer Peter Malick.
Waits also works wonders with a smoky interpretation of Billie Holiday’s
“Yesterdays,” which also benefits from a zesty dash of New Orleans mixed
in, courtesy of Lee Thornberg’s trumpet and Dave Marsh’s clarinet.
A funky version of Tom Waits’ (no relation) “Get Behind The Mule” is a
more up-tempo and playful track that picks up the pace well. Other
covers include a passionate take on Bob Dylan’s “Ring Them Bells,” and
the old Stax classic “Cigarettes and Coffee.” “Mother In Law Blues”
shows that Waits is comfortable with a straight blues tune, and her
slow, deliberate reading of the standard “Come Rain or Shine” may cause
you to adjust your thermostat. However well she acquits herself on the
other cover tunes, Waits comes as close to making Ray Charles’ “Drown in
My Own Tears” her own as anyone ever has or probably ever will.
Waits also co-wrote three tracks with Malick, including the previously
mentioned “Fortune Teller.” “The Ballad of Judith Anne” is an
autobiographical song about finding mementos from her mother’s past
after her murder and finding that they had more in common than
Backing Waits is an amazing group of musicians ranging from bassist Jeff
Turmes (Norah Jones, James Harman, Janiva Magness, Mavis Staples), horn
players Thornberg and David Woodford (Bonnie Raitt, Tower of Power), and
keyboardist Phil Parlapiano (Carlene Carter, Lucinda Williams, John
Prine, Rod Stewart). Producer/guitarist Malick has played with Norah
Jones, James Montgomery, and Otis Spann.
This is an impressive debut recording that will leave you wanting to
--- Graham Clarke