Bonnie Whitmore – Last Will & Testament
This Austin side attraction powerhouse vocalist with a distinctive style is instantly engaging & should rightfully take center stage & never leave.
Bonnie Whitmore packs a wallop. Her opening track “Last Will & Testament” is decorated with nice solid saxes, guitars, strings & dynamite. Whitmore apparently has the goods. Proving her ability to be diversified, Bonnie slips a ballad into her chamber & provides the listener with #2 “None of My Business.” Excellently aimed.
Now despite my saying she’s a powerful vocalist though not in the tradition of a Janis Joplin or Candy Givens — Bonnie’s vocal has clarity & slides smoothly into “Right/Wrong.” Structured more in the 60s pop-country tradition by hit-making women like Sandy Posey, Diane Renay, Skeeter Davis & the legendary Leslie Gore. Bonnie has the tonality that makes her authentic. This one’s a beauty & that’s 3 in a row.
By the 4th Bonnie (vocals/bass/8-string bass/acoustic guitar/cello) travels down a Lucinda Williams’ path stylistically with the sprightly “Fine.”
This is one of the best-paced LPs I’ve heard in a long time. There’s momentum throughout the tuneful bag Bonnie has. By the time the listener gets to “Asked For It,” old hippies will revel in the aggressiveness mindful of 60s girl groups such as the legendary Shangri-Las. With this LP — no more background vocalizing for Bonnie.
Her 10-cut/38-minute LP — Last Will & Testament (drops Oct 2 – Starlet & Dog) features Scott Davis (vocals/electric & acoustic guitar/12-string electric guitar/horn arrangement), Craig Bagby (vocals/drums/percussion), Trevor Nealon (Hammond/Wurlitzer/piano/synths/toy piano), Betty Soo (vocals/accordion), Eleanor Whitmore (violins/strings arrangement on “Time To Shoot” & “George’s Lullaby”), David Bechdolt (sax/baritone sax), Steve Butts (trumpet), Martha Whitmore, Akina Adderley, Will Johnson (backing vocals) & Britton Biesenherz (drum loops/percussion).
Performed with true Bonnie Whitmore verve is “Time To Shoot,” a sparkling piece well-arranged played exceptionally well by all, & with expressive Craig Bagby drums. Nice work Craig. A superb Whitmore cut. Delicious stuff. Hit replay!
All songs are well-arranged & performed. The choir backing vocalists on “Love Worth Remembering,” is strikingly beautiful. A stunner. The toy piano open on “Imaginary,” is creative. Bonnie goes with vocal-effect but never dives into lunacy. Hits her notes with ease, maintains tonality with presence. Somewhat in a Jane Siberry-Kate Bush realm. Effective.
Again, the brawny martial drums of Bagby anchor “Flashes & Cables,” with gnawing guitars & Whitmore on solid footing. Great rocker.
And what does she do for a finale? Goes cocktail lounge jazz on “George’s Lullaby.” I love it. This will have a primal appeal. It’s a contagious showcase. Not a cut I didn’t like & that says it all. Whitmore will be worth watching.
She has proven in short order — she not only can get the attention of an audience; she understands the value of diversification.
Produced by Bonnie Whitmore & Scott Davis. Available at https://bonniewhitmore.com/home-1