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Miss Laurie Ann & the Saddletones

Ease My Mind – 2014 ( Self-released)

Reviewed by Andy Turner

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CDs by Miss Laurie Ann & the Saddletones

You know a band is shooting for "throwback" when there's a five-line paragraph in its CD liner notes describing the vintage equipment and facility used in the recording. But this New Jersey outfit, with help from producer/engineer Dave Gonzalez of The Paladins and Hacienda Brothers, stands out just fine, even without such declarations, on "Ease My Mind," the Saddletones' sophomore effort.

Versatility is a strongpoint for the band and the album; forays into blues, gospel, western swing and rockabilly are equally convincing. Miss Laurie Ann is especially adaptable with her vocals, which take on shades of soul, sweetness and sass with ease and subtlety. She shines brightly on the opening rave-up "Great Gosh Almighty," propelled by terrific organ playing courtesy of one Sweney Tidball. On the low-down "Good Time Charlie," she brings just the right amount of attitude to the song while Saddletones tear it up behind her. And Miss Laurie Ann channels Miss Wanda Jackson on the rowdy standout "Let's Fight."

The slower songs, such as "Love Kills" and "Why Don't We Fall in Love" (a co-write between Miss Laurie Ann and Gonzalez), are equally enticing because of the hurt and tenderness evoked by Miss Laurie Ann's vocals and honest, smart songwriting. There's even a cool truck-driving song, "Big Rig," that chugs along on a fun groove without seeming dated or kitschy. A highly pleasurable listen, even if you don't know what the hell a RCA 44BX ribbon microphone or EMT Model 140 plate reverb are, courtesy of Miss Laurie Ann & the Saddletones.