Lea McIntosh – Blood Cash
Unlike many contemporary blues singers today who most likely never lived the life of the blues. These artists, competent as they are, wail their blues in a commercial manner that dilutes the message in favor of showboating. The blues is not leisure entertainment.
Maybe I’m someone who exaggerates the importance. I don’t care. If you list every classic & not so classic blues singer from the past – many didn’t live a privileged life. Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Charlie Patton, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Blind Willie McTell, Elizabeth Cotton, Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Janis Joplin, & B.B. King. The shortlist. Every life bruised.
Lea McIntosh indeed has & witnessed a personal tragedy. No specific details are required in a music review; I know she did. And the authenticity is evident in her riveting showcase.
Blood Cash (Shark Park-Drops Aug 20) provides 7 versatile original songs that require a modicum of having lived the life. This daring, distinctive LP has vitality. Relevant with no vocal superficiality. Lea clearly lays down a groove with a mood, atmosphere & exceptional performance.
Ms. McIntosh provides an economy of unexpected bare-bones blues. The title cut with its acoustic blues guitar slices is mindful of Robert Johnson, then surprisingly gets heavier. A deep bellow of drums adds a wicked touch. Lea’s voice is disembodied from whatever body she possesses. Her soul does the singing.
The sting of the lead guitar isn’t like any current blues guitarist who dabbles in fiery solos. This guitar drips bacon fat & exorcises spirits. The instrumental interplay is a stunner. Andy Just’s harmonica has a snazzy Delta blow ala Sonny Boy Williamson II (Rice Miller).
The showcase is delicious. The production value is good, the sound is solid. “Blues Stoned Heart,” is a Genya Ravan-influenced excursion. A funkier arrangement with southern stride piano. I like Lea’s intonation, how she slinks easily between the instrumentation with her effective phrasing.
The majority of songs possess their own uniqueness. “Tennessee Hurricane” is a beauty. I think singers like Etta James & Nina Simone would’ve enjoyed Lea. They are convincingly performed with punch & cohesion. Nothing heavy-handed. Some are more accessible than others, some lean into a more mainstream style but it’s Lea who keeps it afloat with her gratifying voice. “Soul Stripper,” — may have even attracted Billie Holiday. Satisfyingly good.
The coda is “The Fire Is Coming,” sewn into the fabric of a tight 70s funk-burst like Ten Wheel Drive-Sly & the Family Stone. Had Lea added horns she’d have it.
Musicians: Travis Cruse (Producer/Guitar/Bass/Drums/Vibanet), Andy Just (Harmonica), Myron Dove (Bass), Deszon Claiborne (Drums), Eamonn Flynn (Piano/Hammond Organ), Tammi Brown & Will Bell (Harmony Vocals). All songs: McIntosh/Cruse. No video available at press time. Photo by: Michael Soo.
The 33-minute CD: Available @ https://www.leamcintosh.com/about