Back in 2011, Lee Aaron made her come back as a Rock artist after years in the shade. A career as a jazz artist and motherhood put her out of the business for many, many years. It took the now 55-year-old, Ontario, Canada born, a few more years to get her shit together and finally release a new album – her first since 2004 – and when she did it wasn’t all ta half covers/half original one.hat great. Now it’s time for a follow-up, a follow-up that’s a half covers / half original one.
To say that my expectations were high would be to exaggerate things by miles. I had only heard two of her albums in its entirety before – 1984’s Metal Queen and her self titled, AOR smelling album from 1987, where the latter is my favorite by far. So her previous album, Fire And Gasoline (2016), is only the third album of hers that I have heard – and it failed to convince me. It wasn’t a crap album per se but it was uneven and many times it sounded like Aaron didn’t know which leg to stand upon musically. That’s why I listened to this album only because of me being interested in which way she would go this time.
The album opens with the title track, a tough and rough roaring bluesy hard rocker with a slight Melodic Rock vibe. It’s a pretty kicking track that surely beats everything on her last record. A very good track and a great song to kick off her new album. A cover of Deep Purple’s “Mistreated” follows and I must say it’s a brave move to sink her teeth into that song. Did she nail it then? Well, she didn’t ruin it but I can’t say she bettered it either. It’s heavy and bluesy but the song needs the raspiness of David Coverdale and the rawness of the original – this one’s a bit too slick. Aaron’s voice fits the tune better than I thought it would and the band did a pretty good job on it but it ended upon a “close but no cigar” note.
“American High” is a good rock ‘n’ roll swinger that grooves a lot and sports a big arena rock sound, bluesy in a Melodic Rock way. It’s a pretty good tune but it doesn’t really go all the way. “I’m A Woman” – a Koko Taylor cover – is a slow blues, heavy as hell with a straight up Hard Rock vibe with some impressing, aggressive singing from Aaron. I’m not too familiar with the original, but Aaron owns this tune and it sounds awesome! “Miss Mercy” is a bluesy Hard Rock stomper with a bad-ass groove, a crazy swing and a very strong main melody. It’s catchy as can be and it rocks very well. Single material without a doubt.
The ballad “The Best Thing” is next. The tune got some bluesy influences but it sounds more like an ordinary power ballad from 1991. It’s an ok track but it doesn’t floor me. Besides, 6 minutes of this track is a couple of minutes too many. “Black Cat” is a Janet Jackson cover and boy, what a field-day Aaron & co has had on this one. First, the opening riff plus drum arrangement sounds like Rolling Stones’ “Honky Tonk Women”. Second, she have rocked up an already rocking tune. The song grooves like there’s no tomorrow, it’s raw, rough and dynamic and the whole thing is a jawbreaker. A brilliant cover of a brilliant song.
The next song is “Hard Road”, a Stevie Wright cover. Now, I haven’t heard of Stevie Wright let alone the song in question so I have literary zero to compare it with. The tune is pretty straight-forward with a punch. I must say it rocks pretty well but it fails to grab me for real. It’s not bad though. When it comes to “In My Bedroom”, you really don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out what that song’s about. The tune comes with a major groove and it rocks with a 70’s influenced, bluesy Hard Rock vibe but also with a big Pop vibe. It reminds me of Whitesnake’s more poppy moments and it catches on right off the bat – very good.
“Cut Way Back” is another cover where the original have passed me by big time. It was written and recorded by one Tom Hambridge whose whereabouts I’m totally clueless of. It’s a slow, rowdy and raunchy Blues rocker that’s very direct and in-your-face. It’s heavy enough with a tough kick. Great! The first – and only – time I have heard the 1963 Dee Dee Warwick tune “You’re No Good” was when Van Halen covered it on their second album in 1978, but it’s been covered a lot by others as well. Lee Aaron’s version is more Pop-laden but still groovy but I prefer Van Halen’s more rough and rowdy version. It’s still a very good cover, though. As a closer we get a cover of Little Walter’s (who??) “My Babe” and it sure sounds like an oldie here. It’s a pretty good and swingin’ pop-rocker but it’s really not that special – an “in one ear, out the other” kind of tune.
Now the whole “let’s do a blues album / let’s do a cover album” thing is really feeling rather old but the fact is, Lee Aaron have made a good album here. The album do has its flaws, but I still get the feeling that it was made with her heart in the right place. And Aaron sings her heart out – she’s really an underrated singer. It’s also way better than her last debacle, leaving all the teenie Pop and the lame skate-rock vibes at the doorstep which is a big step forward. The original tunes shows that Lee and her band really can deliver when they want which makes me look forward to her next album. The album might be a bit uneven but it’s on the good side rather than the bad.
More Lee Aaron reviews:
1. Diamond Baby
3. American High
4. I’m A Woman
6. Best Thing
7. Black Cat
8. Hard Road
9. In The Bedroom
10. Cut Way Back
11. You’re No Good
12. My Babe