Sari Schorr - Never Say Never

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Manhaton Records
Produced by Henning Gehrke

Never Say Never is the second album by powerful blues chanteuse Sari Schorr from New York, this time around she has some new musicians including guitarist Ash Wilson and Bob Fridzema (of King King fame), and they certainly help to raise the levels that Sari wants to reach.

The album features 11 songs, nine of which are originals, with two covers including the title track. A number of the original tracks are very personal, and it shows not only in the words but in the emotion that seeps out of every pore. There is a couple which are political, keeping the blues up to date. It flits a little musically, incorporating not only blues but country and a touch of pop, but her voice is so versatile that she can jump from fragile and reflective to powerful roars very easily.

Opening with a song about Robert Johnson (King of Rock And Roll) and his selling of his soul to the devil is a subject that has had much coverage, yet she manages to give a new edge or bite to the material. The chorus is very infectious, the little touches of keys add nicely, and the guitar solo is a belter. It's a terrific start to the album, and she continues in the same vein with Thank You, which has a sarcastic, caustic, sneering vocal as she sings "Thank you for the indifference, I'm still here in case you forgot." It has a funky feel running through it and the solo has plenty of wah pedal on it. Valentina is a lively rocker about being on the road "preaching her religion", missing friends, families and moments in life regarding the people back home, with Sari showing off plenty of power in her voice. It's a little more passionate and in your face than the previous two tracks, but with plenty groove. This is one of the many highlights on this new album.

Another quite personal song is Turn The Radio On, telling the story of a dream man she met but due to circumstance cannot be with. In the notes with the album she uses the expression "right man, wrong time". There is a hint of Live in the melody (Throwing Copper period) and her voice is quite sultry and expressive. It's quite a commercial piece but with substance.

There are two songs which have a political edge to them. The first is The New Revolution, which is dedicated to the memory and writings of Martin Luther King Jr. It's a call for a new peaceful revolution against a "mass confusion," and wanting more love in the world. The opening is a mix of T. Rex and Rolling Stones, especially in the opening riffs. From there it turns into a southern country type thing. The other is Freedom, an anti-gun song, or at least a plea for some change. Inspired by a school shooting incident in Connecticut where 20 children and six adults died, the song is asking how can people truly be free if they are afraid to go into a public place due to the proliferation of guns. Live this should be a powerful moment with a mighty hook and a chorus that is easy to join in with. It's a subject that takes some bravery to write about. As does spousal abuse, which Sari sings about in Maybe I'm Fooling. Showing that the blues isn't all about history and the past, but is alive due to the hardships that still exist today.

Sari can also sing ballads perfectly. Beautiful comes right after one of the heavier songs on the album, but the leap is made without a problem. She has a huskiness to her voice, making it sound not too sweet or schmaltzy. The guitar solos are rather terrific too. The other ballad, and title track, is the last song on the album and is a cover of a track written by ex-Small Faces keyboardist Ian McLagan when he sadly lost his wife to cancer. It's not so different to the original, keeping the sensitivity and heartfelt bare emotion, and only near the end does she let loose with full power.

Never Say Never is a tour de force bursting with well written and executed songs. Vocally superb, and with a band that have so much talent, especially in the guitar and keyboard departments (some of the flourishes are delightful), but not forgetting a solid rhythm section as well. This is an album that could very well be in a few people's top tens come the end of the year.

Tracklist: King of Rock And Roll / Thank You / Ready For Love / Valentina / The New Revolution / Beautiful / Turn The Radio On / Maybe I'm Fooling / Back To L.A. / Freedom / Never Say Never

Written by Tom Cornell
More: 2018, Albums, Blues,

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