Ladies Edition- Ann Wilson, Ellen Foley, Josie Cotton and Laura Meade
For this installment of RockPile Kevin takes a listen to new releases from Ann Wilson & the Amazing Dawgs, Ellen Foley, Josie Cotton and Laura Meade
Ann Wilson & the Amazing Dawgs - Howlen Live
Wilson continues to release great music away from her work with Heart and here, working with her current touring band the Amazing Dawgs, she releases four live cuts that were from shows she performed this past June in Florida. The EP begins with two cuts recorded in Orlando, a take on Heart's big hit "Crazy on You" that has a teasing two-minute intro, and a new song called "Black Wing" that Wilson wrote during lockdown. The cut is a rocker that has an air of mystery about it and that to a certain extent reflects Wilson's well-known love for Led Zeppelin. Ann's mid-song flute solo adds to the song's aura, and when it morphs into a guitar solo it gives the cut a prog rock feel. Wilson has always been as adept at tenderness as she has been at belting out rockers and her quieter side shines on a cover of the Freddie Mercury-penned tearjerker "Love of My Life" that was a big hit for Queen. The EP wraps up with another Heart song, a hard-driving run-through of longtime favorite "Barracuda." The Amazing Dawgs are Tom Bukovac on guitar, Paul Moak on guitar and keyboards, Tony Lucido on bass and Sean T. Lane on drums.
Ellen Foley - Fighting Words
Meat Loaf's album Bat Out of Hell
has sold 50 million copies and every owner of that record has had a chill go up their spine when they hear Ellen Foley sing her impassioned lines on "Paradise By the Dashboard Light:" "I gotta know right now before we go any further/Do you love me? Will you love me forever?," topping it all off with a sassy "What's it gonna be, boy/Yes or no?" Now Foley brings more thrills with her fifth solo album Fighting Words and she begins the effort once again questioning a potential lover on "Are You Good Enough," a country-tinged rocker where the title says it all. The poppy Southern soul of "Be Nice" recalls the great Dusty Springfield, and Foley teams with old friend Karla DeVito on the fast-paced rocker "I'm Just Happy to be Here," a buoyant celebration of survival. "I Call My Pain by Your Name" lopes to an old school country beat, more Southern soul comes in the form of a well-chosen cover of Wilson Pickett's "I Found a Love" while "Fill Your Cup" is subdued and spiritual. The album closes with "Heaven Can Wait," a delicate cut written by Meat Loaf's songwriter, the late Jim Steinman.
Josie Cotton - Pussycat Babylon
Cotton has a reputation for producing fun and upbeat pop songs and the first few lines of "Calling All Girls," the album's first single, indicates she's still looking to entertain with her cute and zany style: "The bee's in my bonnet/The cow ate the cabbage/My boyfriend's Michael Myers/Believe me I'm damaged." The electro rocker has an irresistible chorus that begs for a singalong and it's a real earworm, so be prepared to have "Here kitty kitty/Calling all girls" running through your head long after the song finishes playing. Cotton's vocals are a little heavier (think Christina Amphlett) as are the electro effects on "Recipe for Disaster" while "Pussycat Babylon" is a charming and catchy rocker that owes a bit to the Stooges, and yes there are "meows." Speaking of the Stooges, one of the coolest songs on the album is "Stop Iggy Pop," a cut featuring New Wave synths and a robotic chorus repeating the song title; other than that clever hook the song has nothing to do with Iggy. Cotton wrote most of the songs on this 11-song effort and she did one heck of a good job.
Laura Meade - The Most Dangerous Woman in America
The very brief and atmospheric "On the Shores of the Seine" kicks off this album and segues into "Leaving;" there's no similarity in voice but the music and structure of "Leaving" makes it clear that Meade has listened to her share of Kate Bush. "Burned at the Stake" features aching vocals right up until the song goes into a wash of proggy keyboard at its finish while the album's title cut is really open to interpretation; again structured in a way reminiscent of Kate Bush the song is maybe about the forgotten woman, remembered only in death. Regardless, the delicate piano playing and equally delicate vocals, tempo changes and effects make the cut, a sort of sequel to "Burned at the Stake," a captivating listen. All of the songs here are written by Meade with her guitarist/bass player John Galgano and the pair whip up an electropop groove with hints of Middle Eastern music on "Forgive Me" before closing the effort with "Tell Me, Love" featuring just Meade on vocals and piano at the beginning but eventually ending with grand Rick Wakeman-like synth fanfares.