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December 2022

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LJ Mounteney
Mama Danced

Puzzle Rabbit Records

LJ Mounteney

We get a lot of independent albums from relatively-unknown artists sent to us at Blues Bytes, and sometimes they are pretty decent sets of recordings. But it's rarer for an album from an unknown artist to knock me for a loop with how good it is. That's the case with Mama Danced, from Vancouver, B.C.-based singer LJ Mounteney. After listening to it for the first time, I immediately wondered why this young woman isn't already a regular on the international blues scene and why is she not on a bigger record label. Mama Danced might just turn out to be the surprise hit of the year.

Mounteney has a strong, pleasant voice, capable of covering a wide range of blues styles, and she's backed by a solid group on this mix of interesting originals and recognizable cover songs, produced by Jack Lavin. Mounteney has been called the "Canadian Bonnie Raitt," and that's not a bad comparison for her talents.

Mama Danced opens with a strong cover of the Memphis Minnie classic, "Dirty Rat," a mid-tempo New Orleans-sounding number with a strong harmonica solo from Brandon Isaak, who also handles much of the guitar duties throughout. The Lavin original, "I Like It Hot," takes a Tex-Mex turn with accordion from Debra Peters. Mounteney sings about liking her food and weather hot, but something tells me that's not all that she prefers to be en fuego. "Wasn't That A Time," written by Mounteney's pal Jack Foster, is a slower, snaky number with mysterious harp by Lavin and slide guitar from Isaak.

Ms. Peters returns with her accordion on the Cajun-flavored title cut, with Mounteney singing about how tough her mother's life was but that she let it all out by dancing whenever she could. It's a real feelgood tune with plenty of wallop packed by our star's vocals. One of the highlights here is the gospel number, "Take My Message," penned by Isaak, featuring inspirational vocals by Mounteney with Dee Daniels and Krystle Dos Santos adding a heavy dose of soul with their background voices.

Another very strong number is the pleasant jazzy song written by Mounteney, "Somebody Pour Me Some Coffee," as she sings about what she needs to get the energy to give and get some love. Sax man Jerry Cook and trumpet player Geeta Daas add power to the song while Isaak comes in with a nice guitar solo. Mounteney does justice to the up-tempo, funky Irma Thomas original, "I Did My Part," opened with a piano and horns combo.

Mounteney really shines on vocals on the slow, late-night jazzy blues number, "Life of the Party," with tasteful piano from Jan Randall. The Willie Dixon composition, "I'm Ready," has always been one of my favorite songs from Muddy Waters, and Mounteney uses all the power in her voice to take this one home. I bet it's a favorite in her live shows. Her voice is just as strong on the slow blues ballad, "Take Some Care Of Me," with Jon Roper contributing a very nice guitar solo.

It's soul time with the up-tempo Jimmy Hughes classic, "Neighbor, Neighbor," with a big horn sound and more killer guitar work from Roper. This one fits the definition of a 'soul mover.' "Two is a Couple" was originally a hit for Ike & Tina Turner in 1965, and Mounteney sure has a good time covering this fun song. Closing the album is the slow blues original from the pen of Tom Arntzen, "Basement Suite Blues,"  highlighted by a nice sax solo from Cook and piano from Randall.

If, like me, you weren't familiar with the name LJ Mounteney, you really should be digging around to find this album. Mama Danced is sure a lot of fun. I will be listening to it often, and so should you.

--- Bill Mitchell

 

 

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