|Singer/songwriter and keyboardist Sandy Carroll and her partner, Grammy-winning producer Jim Gaines, are at the forefront of another emerging genre “Smooth Blues,” as exemplified by her new release Love On It. The Tennessee native and proud recipient of a Beale Street Brass Note has been performing since she was a teen and calls herself a product of the musical melting pot of blues, rock, soul, and country that is Memphis. Her soft sultry vocal style and elegant piano playing is the focus for the collection of new tracks dealing with life, love and loss delivered with a velvet glove approach and hi quality sound aesthetic that stirs the soul yet remains easy on the ears. Carroll and Gaines assembled an all-star backing band including guitarist Will McFarlane, bassist Dave Smith, drummer Steve Potts, and others, completing the project that was three years in the making.
Carroll spells out her belief in the power of love on the sweet swinging title track, “Love On It,” that pops with touches of barrelhouse and gospel. “Heart Full Of Honey” drips with sultry flair as Carroll sings her siren song of tempting double entendres. She delivers sage advice on leaving your past behind on the swampy “Don’t Rattle Them Bones,” and whispers in our ears on the flowing 90’s L.A. pop ballad “Hurt So Hard.” The soulful love song, “Baby Blue,” pays tribute to her lover and the effects of a true romance. Album highlight, “Soul Of The Heart,” is a timeless R&B ballad steeped in alluring southern charm with Carroll’s vocals punctuated by a soaring sax solo from Buddy Leach.
The volume ramps up for the throbbing groover “Blindsided,” and the horn driven “Tryin’ To Feel Heaven” mixes elements of classic soul and modern R&B to convey the message of hope. Caroll takes us to church on the gospel fueled shuffle, “Gonna Come A Day,” that lopes along on the driving bass line from Dave Smith and solid organ from Rick Steff. Gritty guitar from Will McFarlane leads the slow burning commentary on social media, “Preacher Man.” The playful jazz lounge number, “Code Blue,” has Carroll sparring with saxophonist Buddy Leach using a set of medical emergency terms with razor sharp wit on heartache.
Love On It closes with the heartfelt piano driven ballad “Gotta Hand It To You,” with Carroll giving praise and testimony of gratitude to those closest to her, who gave the love and support necessary to complete her journey.
Rick J Bowen
Sandy Carroll returned to her Memphis roots in 1983 and spent a year headlining at a local club on historic Beale Street, following several years of performing on the road. Writing and recording the singles, ‘If You Got It’ and ‘Memphis In May’ in 1984, Sandy partnered with Jim Dickinson, NARAS Memphis chapter’s seven-time producer of the year. ‘Memphis In May’ became a regional hit and for several years, the unofficial theme song for the Memphis In May annual festivities. Sandy performed at the Memphis In May Festival with the Memphis Horns (with special guest Rufus Thomas) and also at the first Beale Street Music Festival.
Upon her return to Memphis in 1989, the legendary Albert King recorded Sandy’s ‘If You Got It’ which appeared on his final studio album, “Red House.” Sandy then starting writing songs for her own full-length debut album, “Southern Woman,” released in 1993. Following the release, Sandy was invited on a month-long tour of the United Kingdom. Sandy continued promoting “Southern Woman” by performing at various festivals in the South, including Arts in the Park, Eureka Springs Blues Festival, and the Southern Heritage Festival. She maintained a heavy performing schedule at all of Beale Street’s most prestigious clubs, and one of Sandy’s more unique gigs was writing the Memphis Mad Dog football team theme song, ‘Mad Dog Boogie,’ recorded by Southern-fried soul and blues musician Preston Shannon. In 1997, the great Luther Allison recorded Sandy’s ‘Just As I Am’ and ‘It’s A Blues Thing’ on his final album, “Reckless,” which was nominated for a Grammy. That same year, Sandy recorded and released “Memphis Rain,” which was honored by the Memphis and Shelby County Film and Music Commission. She went on to receive a nomination by NARAS’ Memphis chapter for Songwriter of the Year.
Beginning the new millennium with concerts, club and festival performances, Sandy appeared at Muscle Shoals Songwriters, Beale St. Caravan National Radio Show at B.B. Kings, W.C. Handy Festival and the (invitation only) International Songwriters Festival in Orange Beach, Alabama, where she opened for songwriting legends Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham. In 2001, Sandy was filmed by Memphis’ PBS station WKNO, along with great songwriters Keith Sykes, Teenie Hodges, Nancy Apple, Duane Jarvis, and Delta Joe Sanders as part of the “In Their Own Voices” concert. In 2007, Sandy released “Rhythm Of The Rivers,” with five previously unpublished songs and a reprise of ‘Bound For Glory.’ In 2008, Sandy was awarded her own brass note on Memphis’ historic Beale Street, and in 2010 the note was formally presented and enshrined in front of the Hard Rock Café. Sandy Carroll also co-wrote cuts on Catfood Records labelmates Johnny Rawls’ “Soul Survivor,” Barbara Carr’s “Keep The Fire Burning,” James Armstrong’s “Blues At The Border” and Daunielle Hill’s self-titled album. Sandy was one of the first inductees into her hometown’s Music Hall of Fame along with famous Memphis DJ, Dewey Phillips, in 2013 and she was also named a “Memphis Music Emissary” in 2015 in recognition of her contributions to Memphis music.
Sandy four previous releases on Catfood Records – “Blues & Angels” (2018), “Last Southern Belle” (2016), “Unnaturally Blonde” (2013) and “Just As I Am” (2011) – all received international critical acclaim and substantial radio airplay on blues and Americana/country radio stations.