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Mia Vermillion - Alone Together with the Blues


Run Time: 33:55

I've had the fortune of making friends all over with the blues. One of the perks of having friends from all around, I get introduced to artists that I otherwise probably wouldn't get to hear. Witness the upper Northwest. For the past decade and a half, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho have brought the world some uncanny blues talent in a land far removed from the Delta of Mississippi or the soul of Memphis. Tim "Too Slim" Langford and John Nemeth are the first two names that immediately pop into mind. Oregon is the host of the nation's largest roots music distributor, Burnside Distribution. Now, we have one more addition to this line up of phenomenal finds from the lands of the forests and rainy weather of the Northwest: Mia Vermillion. Mia has been touring and working non-stop in the region for a while now, distributing her mixture of earthy jazz, blues, with a little dose of 50s & 60s country & western roots (think countrypolitan Patsy Cline or Jim Reeves styled vibes). Vermillion's silky alto is something so seductive and smooth that you can almost feel yourself being seduced through the speakers - and you'll give in, let me tell you!

This is Vermillion's debut release. She enlists some pretty good talent to play host to her genre-mixing release. Edwardsville, Illinois (hey, that's not too far from this Juke Joint Soul's birthplace) native and roots dobro & slide player Orville Johnson takes the helm as the tasty echo to Vermillions sensuous vocals. Johnson is a sought-after player in the Northwest, and has been for awhile. His touches on the lonesome-sounding dobro add to the vibe of the country & western meets blues meets jazz sounds. Grammy-nominated bassist Garey Shelton joins for one track and acclaimed gold record writer/producer Tom Kellock produces on two tracks.

Vermillion writes two of the nine tracks. The rest of the music are superbly selected cover songs from the likes of LeRoy Carr, Big Bill Broonzy, Lil Green, and a song classically recorded by Aretha Franklin. This song is a great rainy day weather album. It's lonesome, earthy, sensual, and makes you wanna snuggle up next to a loved one and just completely chill out. Vermillion completely takes me away on the original "Love's Lost and Found." This one is just as smooth as a fine wine and gave me the smiling goose-pimples. Don't be fooled though, Vermillion can turn up the sass, too. The two Big Bill Broonzy covers "When I've Been Drinkin'" and "I'm Gonna Copyright Your Kisses" are swingin' little numbers that best highlight Vermillion's flare for jazzy-blues arrangements. Johnson keeps it earthy like Big Bill would've with his nasally licks on the dobro to fill in the spaces.

Vermillion turns the classic "I Wonder" into a contemporary pop-jazz performance that is not overdone nor understated. The arrangement and Vermillion's smooth croon is very reminiscent of the late songbird Eva Cassidy. It's a beautiful, delicate treatment of a song that has been terribly overdone in the past. "Two Cigarettes In the Dark" is a little not my style, but the clarinet laced piece (played by Hans Treuber) adds to the already rainy day mood jazz that Vermillion seemingly has a penchant for. Vermillion can reach upper registers effortlessly in this almost 20's jazz piece and Johnson demonstrates a mastery on guitar with some smooth licks of his own.

This album is a well-thought, well-planned, economical, and astronomical first release for this artist. She will definitely catch attention, if sent to the right places, on many AAA radio formats and can easily fit on both blues, jazz, and quiet storm programs. She's got a magnificent voice that is on par with any ladies I've heard today. Don't put this lady as an opening act, she deserves top billing and if her stage presence is any bit like her recordings, she bound to shoot straight into crossover territory. Her many-faceted approach will win you over and this is one album that's definitely worth repeating - especially after a long day at work or a rainy day with a lover or if you just want to be alone together with the blues.

Reviewed by Ben "the Harpman" Cox. Visit his website Juke Joint Soul

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