Jane Lee Hooker

Spiritus

(RUF Records)

A second album for the all-female quintet arrives and it seems the mission to rock the globe remains. Their strong points here are an NYC gang attitude, a move this time to more originals and – in their view – the cleansing credo of recording live, using no pedals and no overdubbing. As when a film-maker goes for monochrome, it’s an artistic choice. What it does here is bring the ensemble sound closer to AC/DC than say Hendrix or moreover Living Colour where the ever-changing tones are part of the whole. The group are Dana Athens keys/vcl, Tracy Hightop guitar, Tina Gorin guitar, Mary Zadroga bass and Melissa Houston drums. OK now we press ‘Play’…

Opening salvo How Ya Doin? boogies in with a whispered vocal intro moving into a spirited roar that evokes Joan Jett. Sounds like a Les Paul lead, over pounding drums. It sounds like an established stage favourite or one to come. Next up Gimme That is a softer funk tread and Athens testifies in the vein of a junior Janis.There’s a Stonesy vibe to this as if they are about to launch inti Gimme Shelter at times.

Mama Said takes a sweet easy-rollin’ backdrop as a tale unfolds. A highlight of the collection this song shows off the group’s sense of dynamics. Cries out for some wah guitar! Then Be My Baby heads back to Stones territory with another clear and strong vocal. Later On is a slowie, with a nice melody and a lower-pitched vocal which works well. It does strike the listener that the band can really frame a vocal well and not all acts in this field can. Does their stance allow amp tremelo? If so it ought to be used here on the chords. Black Rat is the Willie Mae Thornton tune taken at breakneck pace as if life on Earth was about to end!

Ends Meet has something of The Small Faces about it and the best singing on the set is to be found here, insistent and acerbic. Nice use of space. Nimble bass that heeds the progressions but adds variety. How Bright The Moon is a piano-centred torch song, for variety and quite delightful. Turn On Your Love Light is the old warhorse from Robey and Scott, familiar to Blues Brothers and Dead fans. It really rides the rails in this incarnation and again dies sound like a setlist must. The dual guitar inserts sound terrific. Closing number The Breeze sits back on a cool blues riff and a guitar weave that keeps it downtown. An apposite vocal floats on the song like a lily of a pond. A fine adieu….

Our own Joan Of Arc are adept at this style of music so JLH will have to mix it with the likes of them and indeed Salvation Jayne. But they seem to have the attack to do that, or die tryin’……

Pete Sargeant



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(Thanks RUF Records)

Jane Lee Hooker’s new album ‘Spiritus’ is out now on RUF Records.

For more information visit the band’s official website: http://bit.ly/2pyoRkB 

Jane Lee Hooker