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Liz Mandeville - Red Top

Earwig Records

Chicago blues singer and guitar slinger Liz Mandeville shows an impressive array of songs and styles on her fourth CD release on the Earwig imprint. The disc is called Red Top and features 15 original tunes that range from straight-up blues to swing to deeply soulful ballads. Mandeville has logged countless miles on the road in the pursuit of her music and has obviously learned what it takes to keep an audience, be it live or listening to a record, committed and listening. She is backed on the new disc by a combination of session players, her own touring band, and one honest-to-gosh blues legend, tenor sax great Eddie Shaw, who guests on two cuts.

The best thing about Red Top is that the record is as much about great songwriting as great playing. There are no covers here, no standards, no stories you have heard before. Mandeville trusts her own creative instinct completely and the confidence she has shows in the songs, especially in the lyrics. From the playful “Spanky Butt” to the double-entendre of “Scratch The Kitty,” Mandeville puts her own songwriting voice out there to get the party started. Other standout tracks include the deep “National Guard Blues,” “Guilty Of Rockin’ All Night,” and the title cut “Red Top.”

Mandeville has made quite a name for herself on the blues scene with her previous three releases and countless gigs around the world. She also writes short stories and paints, which only adds to her artistry and knowing that, it is easy to see why she chooses to write her own tunes rather than record re-done covers, as so many acts do. Hopefully, she will sell enough copies of this record to make another one and continue the creative cycle. Lord knows we can sure use some new blues songs.

Reviewed by Mike O'Cull

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