|Those rose-colored glasses that Teresa James sports on the album cover of her latest release, Rose-Colored Glasses Vol. 2, are much more than just a clever prop and title. They represent the continuation of a vision that began almost exactly two years ago, when James and her musically exuberant Rhythm Tramps – fronted by her warmly soulful vocals – released Rose-Colored Glasses Vol. 1, finding the joys of love and life through the lens of their rose-colored musical outlook. In addition to being awarded two silver medals from the Global Music Awards and a Libera Award nomination for Best Blues Record, James also received her second Blues Music Award nomination (Contemporary Blues Female Artist) following the release of Vol 1.
Since those glasses were overflowing with that vision, those ingredients are back in place for Vol. 2, another dozen expressive songs hand-crafted by producer/bassist/songwriter/ husband Terry Wilson along with James and caressed into existence by James’ honeyed voice that treats every song as an emotional rescue. Wilson notes, “So many times I thought I’d be finished with a tune, and then Teresa would come in, hear it, and teach me how it should be done, especially melodically and dynamically.”
The Tramps plus a few friends are their usual crackling good selves here, allowing James to blend her Texas roots with their present Los Angeles environs into crisp, swinging, countrified Southern California soul. James’s expressive vocals are smooth and sensuous, with just a hint of romantic grit, and always right in tune with her message. The icing on the cake for the project was a trip to Malmsbury, England where James and Wilson had the opportunity to visit with and learn from their friend, grammy-winning producer and engineer, John Porter, while he completed the mixing and mastering of the album.
This adventure begins with the sultry opener’s promise, “I’d Do It For You,” with the vow: “I’d take care of your bills, I’d give you your pills, I’d cure your ills….” “Better Angels” is an easy-rolling search for better angels with some honky-tonk undertones from keyboard wizard Kevin McKendree. “Lean On Love” is percussive, rock-steady advice on the emotional support available when leaning in the proper direction – toward love, of course.
“The Idea Of You” is a softly soulful ballad in a smaller combo setting that puts the emphasis on James’ haunting vocal turn. “That’s What I’m Talking About” is a gently swinging affair with a lovely liquid guitar run followed by a sensuous sax solo by Paulie Cerra. “I Don’t Need Another Reason To Fall In Love” bounces to life with a touch of R&B driving James toward her man. James gets a co-writing credit on “Flip Flop,” with clever wordplay that highlights the dilemma of a love that’s “got me in a hot spot … catch you on the flip-flop….” “The Heart Wants What It Wants” is an eloquent lyrical gem as Wilson blends keys, guitar, and bass behind a poignant vocal turn.
“Ain’t Nothing For Certain,” another track with James’ name and style on it, highlights the will to survive: “Ain’t nothin’ for certain in the world we’re livin’ in, never give up, never give in….” “Just Don’t Think About It” is a lighthearted ode to heartache. “Brand New Flame” serves as a torchy invitation: “I ain’t lookin’ for no one night stand, and I don’t want no come and go man …. if you’re lookin’ for a brand-new flame, well I’m a hot one….” The closer, an upbeat “Second Chances,” throbs with the promise of rose-colored optimism: “I believe in second chances, I believe in love at first glance, I believe in true romance….“ Indeed. And that’s the promise of this sparkling Teresa James & the Rhythm Tramps session, created with warmth and passion and musical genius. Those rose-colored glasses seem to be working just fine.
Jim White (a former music writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette & now writes the Blues Roadhouse)
Teresa James was born and raised in Houston, Texas where she was introduced to music at an early age by her father and grandfather, both guitar players in the old tradition. She started playing piano at five and hasn’t stopped since. Teresa has been called a singer’s singer by many. (When the SAG Singer’s Committee got together to honor composer Randy Newman, Teresa was chosen as the soloist to perform his favorite song to him.) She has recorded with Tommy Castro, Eric Burdon, Spencer Davis, Randy Newman, Lee Roy Parnell, Neil Diamond, Walter Trout, Stephen Bruton, JP Soars, to name just a few. James has performed live with many artists, including Levon Helm, Eric Burdon, Delbert McClinton, Marcia Ball, and Doyle Bramhall, Jr.
Teresa and her band, the Rhythm Tramps, are a Los Angeles based act made up of players that have either played or recorded with such artists as Joe Bonamassa, Keb’ Mo’, Taj Mahal, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Eric Burdon & the Animals, Bonnie Raitt, Delbert McClinton, Jimmy Reed, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Jimmie Vaughan, Allen Toussaint, B.B. King, Johnny Nash, Dixie Chicks, Jennifer Warnes, Smokey Robinson, Tom Jones, Tower Of Power, just to name a few and have had their songs recorded by Paul Rodgers, Eric Burdon, Bill Medley, Tommy Castro, Marcia Ball, Janiva Magness and others. As one critic said, “there are no clichés in this band.” They move easily through Texas style grease and blues into Memphis soul or New Orleans’ flavored grooves and all points in between with fun and abandonment.
More info about the band @ https://teresajames.com/about.