Lisa Mann’s last album, Satisfied, was one of those rising star releases that propelled her and The Really Good Band into the attention of those far out-reaching the Pacific Northwest. The numbers on that disc were prominently featured in her International Blues Challenge semi-final appearance and she has since been featured alongside pals like Diane Blue in Boston and with Karen Lovely on tours to Europe, showcased at the huge Sin City Blues Festival in Las Vegas and a short national tour called ‘Til The Wheels Come Off. So how do you follow-up on a highly successful outing like Satisfied? Why, you put together another album just as strong that will continue that steamrolling opportunity to place your name in the spotlight. You wouldn’t expect anything less from Lisa. And Move On is exactly that record.
Recorded at Portland’s Opal Studio, this is everything you know and love about Lisa Mann. Superb songwriting, exceptionally strong bass drive and those vocals that can tear at your heart-strings or kick you in the back end to get her point across. So you better pay attention. The Really Good Band is spot on throughout Move On as well. Jeff Knudson offers expressive often rocking, often funky guitar, and it’s always the definitive match for Lisa’s vocals. Michael Ballash strikes the perfect pace with his drumming. And Brian Harris throws down serious keyboard that sets the mood, adding the right amount of charisma and panache to each number he appears on.
Lisa has an enormous number of friends and admirers in the Portland musical family and she has brought in a handful of them together for this project. LaRhonda Steele, Arietta Ward, Rae Gordon and Richard Arnold are like the A-Team of go-to vocalists that compliment Lisa so effectively. Sonny Hess has teamed up with Lisa often through the years and she joins in on guitar and vocals for “The Blues Is My Medicine.” Sonny co-wrote this song with the late Paulette Davis, delivering the message that music can be a relieving, soothing and just what the doctor ordered to bring you back up from whatever may be taking you down. Former Insomniac members Alex Shakeri on keys and Dave Melyan on drums, both who have often worked with Lisa and always deliver their own distinct flavor. The harmonica work of Mitch Kashmar is featured on two numbers. One of the finest harp players on the planet, his inclusion helps bring its own unique enjoyable feel, especially on “You Don’t Know,” where Lisa comes across in a presentation that would make Bonnie Raitt jealous and Mitch offers a playful feel almost like he is channeling his inner Toots Thielemans.
Lisa’s songwriting continues to amaze. Like true blues artists she grasps at the experiences of her life and turns them into reflections that many others can relate to as well. Be they happy or sad. The title track, “Move On,” details the various things that life throws at you, but you have to learn and adapt so they do not take you down the wrong path. Two life-altering occurrences in Lisa’s life are mentioned, the death of her mother and the loss of her vocal abilities that silenced her from the summer before last, both devastating but Lisa knew that she had to overcome each to proceed with her future. On a more upbeat note is “Big Long List.” Everybody has such a list that never seems to end. Once you complete what is there, something new always arises to take its place. “I’ve Been Used” is a slow blues where Lisa growls out her pain with Jeff Knudson’s searing guitar punctuating the hurt. “Are You Lonely” is Lisa at her best in songwriting numbers that are bouncy and memorable. Something that probably often goes through her mind as either her husband or herself are usually on the road away from one another, thus the life of two musicians working in different bands. “Give You My Love” is also a heart-wrencher as she shows her love for all the world to see.
The album finishes with two tracks of note. Lisa has stated before that since first covering Little Milton on her last release, she feels compelled to do one of his numbers on every disc from now on. This time she includes one of Milton’s best known numbers “The Blues Is Alright.” The other song is a re-release of an award-winning track she put out a few years ago, “This Bitch.” An edgier song with deep-throated bass playing that still holds a lot of strength.
As Lisa Mann & Her Really Good Band start hitting the touring circuit more heavily, this is an excellent offering that displays her vocals, songwriting and performances. With continued releases as strong as Satisfied and now Move On expect more attention to be thrown upon Lisa and the band. We should be witnessing the break out of another treasure from the Pacific Northwest, one who has the goods to take on the blues world and the charm to win over fans everywhere. I guess we’re going to have to get used to sharing her with others. We’ll gladly abide.
Total Time: 51:24
Move On / Are You Lonely / Give You My Love / The Blues Is My Medicine / You Don’t Know / My Man / I’ve Been Used / Big Long List / Ain’t That Lovin’ You Baby / Doin’ OK / The Blues Is Alright / This Bitch