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Mia Vermillion: Alone Together With the Blues (2009)

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Mia Vermillion: Alone Together With the Blues How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Mia Vermillion has a big vocal presence. She sings with the wild abandon of Janis Joplin controlled by the fluid precision of Bonnie Bramlett, the gusto of Big Mama Thornton
Big Mama Thornton
Big Mama Thornton
1926 - 1984
vocalist
, and the blues foundation of Bessie Smith
Bessie Smith
Bessie Smith
1894 - 1937
vocalist
. She infuses her singing with more humidity than Ma Rainey
Ma Rainey
Ma Rainey
1886 - 1939
vocalist
and more sex than Lena Horne
Lena Horne
Lena Horne
1917 - 2010
vocalist
.

Tacitly a blues singer, Vermillion's repertoire on Alone Together with the Blues is more diverse than the straight 12-bar variety. Joined by master slide guitarist Orville Johnson, Vermillion weaves a tapestry of folk music that extrapolates the similar attempts of Cassandra Wilson

Cassandra Wilson
Cassandra Wilson
b.1955
vocalist
to their logical pinnacle. Johnson provides an earthy, organic bottom to this collection of nine songs with his dobro, guitar, and mandolin, directly impacting Vermillion's approach to the songs.

On Lil Green's "In the Dark," Johnson flat-picks the guitar while Vermillion expounds on pheromones with the lights out. Vermillon's original, "Love's Lost and Found," couples Johnson on electric rhythm and dobro, supporting a languid Vermillion singing, "Come on boys, I'm one of those girls everybody knows, where my dreams are like paper, boy how I'm shuffled around..."

The recording turns on two obscure classic blues, Leroy Carr's "In The Evening," and "When I've Been Drinkin'" by Big Bill Broonzy. "In The Evening" was a staple of the Carr-Blackwell songbook in the 1930s, and 80 years later, Johnson and Vermillion freshen it up to the point it can be compared to its cousin composition, "St. Louis Blues." "When I've Been Drinkin'" hosts Johnson's best dobro playing of the disc as Vermillion, subdued, sings with the reticence of the inebriated.

Vermillion is a fresh and welcome arrival on the blues (and jazz) scene. The full depth of her talent has yet to be seen.

Track Listing: Little Bit of Love; In the Dark; Loves Lost and Found; In The Evening; When I've Been Drinking; I'm Going to Copyright Your Kisses; I Wonder; Walkin'; Two Cigarettes in the Dark.

Personnel: Mia Vermillion: vocals; Orville Johnson: dobro, guitar, mandolin; Chuck Deardorf, Garey Shelton, Cary Black: bass; Ben Smith, Mark Ivester: drums and percussion; Hans Teuber: clarinet.

Record Label: Self Produced

Style: Blues


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