Heidi Newfield – The Barfly Sessions – Vol. 1
While I’m an older reviewer I often make comparisons to more vintage artists & music than most. The attractive Libra Heidi Newfield has enjoyability in her showcase. What do I mean?
It means though she’s a serious artist, singer, she’s also fun. We’re not exploring new roads here, but Newfield has guts, grit & confidence. I heard a female Kim Wilson of The Fabulous Thunderbirds exhale on her prominent harmonica with energy, country-blues muscle & soul.
The Barfly Sessions, Vol 1 (drops Aug 28 – Notfamousenough). A barfly? A person who’s a steady, always at the bar, all hours of the day. Great movie about the poet Charles Bukowski too.
The title cut is a rousing, foot-stomping 3-minutes. The problem with Heidi, if it’s a problem at all, is that she’s many things: alt-country, retro country, blues, honky-tonk. But it’s her being a bold stylist that shines most.
Trad-country aficionados may not care for blues. Honky-Tonk lovers may thumb down alt-country. But Heidi walks the tightrope acutely balanced. Smooth tone, strong as brandy, rough as that last warm drop of beer at the bottom of the glass. “Wrong Side of the Bottle,” nice respective vintage country hat-tip.
Warm sincerity is in her ballads & she has an authentic twang despite being a Northern California native – it’s charming. No Nashville sugar added. Though Barfly was recorded elsewhere in TN.
Delbert McClinton & Heidi duet on “The Blues Is My Business,” & sounds similar slightly to U2’s excursion with BB King – “When Loves Comes to Town.” It resonates though — not a knock-off, it sizzles. Juke-joints will jump.
Vocally, Heidi follows masters like Genya Ravan (Ten Wheel Drive), the remarkable Karen Lawrence (the band 1994 & Blue by Nature) with “Bring It Home,” & “Once Again.” Mother Earth’s Tracy Nelson (“Need Your Love So Bad”), Lydia Pense (Cold Blood), & Candy Givens’ (Zephyr with Tommy Bolin) “Sail On.”
None of these mentions are to undermine Heidi but show the contrasts of great female singers & how Heidi maintains the tradition admirably.
Some tunes are hot though elementary. It’s her vocal, tight arrangements & performance that add splendor. Her mix of old school country, twang, blues & soul — all compelling. Besides Delbert & Jim Lauderdale, Jon Randall, Chris Stapleton & several others helped.
The band: Jim ‘Moose’ Brown (Wurlitzer/piano/Hammond/electric/acoustic/gut string guitars/synth pad); Fred Eltringham (drums/percussion); Michael Rhodes (electric bass); Bobby Terry (steel/acoustic/slide/ electric guitars/piano); David Grissom (guitar); David Roe (upright bass); Jerry Roe (drums); Matt King (acoustic) Wendy Moten, Vicky Hampton, Robert Bailey, Laura Creamer, Shaun Murphy (from Little Feat?), & Barbara Payton (background vocals).
Every cut is enduring. No clichés, thank god. “Temporary Fix (For a Permanent Scar)” — great song title.
Criticism? CD art is poor. Typeface of her name — hard to read. LP title — hardly noticeable. The color lyric insert has better images. Heidi deserves better.
The 14-track, 54-minute CD: Produced by Heidi & Jim ‘Moose’ Brown. Available: https://heidinewfield.com/