Michele D'Amour and the Love Dealers - Lost Nights at the Leopard Lounge

Before sinking into details let me state unequivocally Michelle D'Amour is a good singer with a great voice (most especially in the alto range) and the Love Dealers are an extremely competent and musical band. The new album "Lost Nights at the Leopard Lounge" is their third in what I suspect is a steady climb to embracing the genre. Recorded in two different studios in (Snohomish and Seattle) Washington the recorded performances reinforce my theory that it's easier to get a great take of a slow blues in the studio than of an up-tempo foot-to-the-floor song. The studio is conducive to calm and sultryness - but without a live audience the band tends to hold back slightly in fast tempos - perhaps worried about cutting a "perfect" take - which in a live setting would not be an issue. I suspect the Love Dealers will be more inclined to let rip on stage when there is no clock on the wall or producer/engineer behind the glass.

There are 12 original tracks penned by Michele D'Amour including a couple composed with Cory Wilds. They range from slow blues to blues rock, gospel and mild funk. The band's player are uniformly excellent and in professional control of their relative timbres and grooves, a couple of them (the guitarist and the bass player) even doubling on horns! There are two drummers on the disc Ronnie Bishop and Rick Bowen sharing the seat. The bass playing by Patrick McDanel is impeccable I would have liked to hear him unaccompanied more than once! Ryan Higgins on guitar covers the terrain with wide array of settings and is most effective with a wah pedal on the up-tempo numbers where he gets his teeth into the material as opposed to being so calmly restrained in the slower numbers, but he does play an especially nice slow passage on "Blue as Blue Can Get."

In my younger days at CBGB's in New York I was talking with Hilly Krystal observing the overwhelming stack of music on and around his desk asking him when he would get around to listening to them. His reply was that if the pitched "demo" was good quite often the band would turn out to be horrible on stage, and if the demo was awful the band could turn out to be brilliant when playing live. The "Lost Nights at the Leopard Lounge" CD is good - but I strongly suspect Michele and the band deliver at a much higher octane level in person.

Outstanding tracksthe uptempo groove of "When the Blues Comes Calling" and a nice slow blues called "What the Cat Dragged In." This is an excellent album well thought out in terms of variety and contrast and will keep any blues audience entertained over multiple hearings.

Michele D'Amour and the Love Dealers play up and down the West coast - if you haven't caught them live yet, try to catch them in a club - you'll have a great time!

— R. Briganza


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