Blues Bytes


February 2014

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Daunielle Hill
Catfood Records

Daunielle Hill

Memphis-based soul/blues singer Daunielle Hill has contributed background vocals on recordings from Solomon Burke, Huey Lewis & the News, Cee Cee James, Sandy Carroll, and Jackie Johnson, and has toured with Lewis over the last four years. Her father, William Brown was a member of the Memphis vocal group, The Mad Lads, who put several songs on the R&B charts for Stax Records in the mid ’60s, so the musical pedigree is definitely there.

Catfood Records has released Hill’s debut as a solo artist, simply titled Daunielle. Produced by the legendary Jim Gaines, it features ten powerhouse tunes, the superlative Catfood “house band,” the Rays, and some excellent songs composed by several of Hill’s labelmates (label chief Bob Trenchard, Sandy Carroll, James Armstrong, and Johnny Rawls), with Hill contributing on several as well.

“Runaway Train” kicks off the disc, with the Rays’ horns at full throttle giving the disc a nice Memphis soul feel, which continues with “Early Grave,” featuring some fierce guitar fills from Johnny McGhee. “I Got A Voice” is a tribute to Hill’s young daughter, and “Biloxi,” with it’s easy-going rhythm punctuated by Dan Ferguson’s accordion, should be adopted by the city as their theme song. “Fallen Bird” is a soulful ballad with a strong vocal performance from Hill backed by Ferguson’s keyboards, and “Romeo and Juliet” is a sweet soul track that would be a hit in a perfect world.

Hill does a wonderful job on the two covers. With “Damn Your Eyes,” always associated with the late Etta James, Hill nearly makes it her own with one of her best performances on the disc. On Jackie Wilson’s “(Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher,” Hill effectively mixes the slower tempo opening of Rita Coolidge’s hit cover of the ’70s with the fiery intensity of the original version.

Daunielle is a great debut recording from Daunielle Hill, who shows that she’s more than ready to move to center stage and take the mic.

--- Graham Clarke
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