Lisa Mills & Ian Jennings

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Review Date August 17, 2013

Review By Andrew Heaps

Location The Rock at Maltby

Surely anyone who sees (and hears) Lisa Mills for the first time will be blown away by that voice, and although this was by no means my first time, that voice is reason enough to drive an hour and a half over the Woodhead pass in the rain to Maltby. Having spoken to Ian Jennings a few weeks earlier at The Sage in Gateshead when he played in Mud Morganfield’s backing band at this year’s SummerTyne Festival I learned that Lisa would be playing only two UK dates on her way over to mainland Europe from her base in Mobile, Alabama. Following excellent support from locals, Roy Machin & Mick Miller, Mississippi raised Lisa Mills took to the stage with her usual UK ‘backing band,’ Ian Jennings on double bass. And trust me, that’s all the band she needs. You really wouldn’t think there were only two instruments on stage. Opening with a couple of self-penned songs, “Eyes So Blue” and “Rain In The Summertime” (‘written about my first ex-husband’!) Lisa then dipped into 2005’s I’M CHANGING album for “I Need A Little Sunshine” (written in Kidderminster whilst missing the weather back home in Mobile). Followed by the opener from 2010’s TEMPERED IN FIRE, “Tennessee Tears” then one of several songs she’s recorded written by the urban legend that is Macclesfield’s ‘Guitar’ George Borowski, a good friend of Lisa’s and an excellent British songwriter. Check him out! George’s “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” led to another cover, Barbara Lynn’s “You’ll Lose A Good Thing.” Lisa Mills knows her Southern soul, and certainly has the voice to suit. Comparisons with Janis Joplin wouldn’t be far off the mark either, given that she spent three years touring with Big Brother & the Holding Company. Wanda Jackson’s “Mean Mean Mama” morphed onto “Kansas City” giving Ian Jennings every opportunity to display his rockabilly slap bass prowess, and Lisa is no slouch on guitar either. Opening the second set with two covers from Southern Rock band, Wet Willie, firstly their 1974 top ten single, “Keep On Smiling” and then “Countryside Of Life” (both from TEMPERED IN FIRE which features the guitar of Andy Fairweather Low) we were then treated to a couple of Jimmy Reed influenced covers in “Bright Lights, Big City” and an acapella “Honest I Do” before Lisa’s own song tribute to Freddie King. Bringing the set to a close with Lazy Lester’s “Sugar Coated Love” (learnt from playing with Austin’s Lou Ann Barton) and an encore featuring a personal medley of ‘songs my Daddy taught me.’ One of my favourite discoveries of recent years, it’s always a joy to watch the faces of audience members who haven’t seen Lisa Mills before. What a voice, and enhanced by superb microphone technique. If you like your Americana with some southern soul and blues, and a big, big voice, then this is the singer for you.

Find out more at www.lisamills.com

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