Reviewers risk sounding like broken records when talking about Kerri Simpson. It’s just that the Melbourne-based singer is so bloody good at what she does, we want everyone to know. She’s one-of-a-kind. She’s paid her dues – with interest. She’s worked with virtually every artist of note from the local blues and roots scene. Here she’s backed by a selection of long-time mates in music, including Belmar studios producer Steve Purcell.
This third release in her ‘Knockin’ at the Backdoor’ series follows Maybe My Midnight and Fortune Favoured Me. There’s a distinct blues bent gracing the smoky late night mood here, with all nine tracks Simpson originals. The production is gloriously lo-fi and it’s easy to imagine our ‘Queen of the Blues’ laying down tracks at Stax or Chess in another era. No rehearsals were required for this experienced combo. When Simpson sits in on a late night session in New Orleans, this is what you might hear.
The title track strolls in with a sultry swagger; Shannon Bourne’s sassy guitar barely restrained. ‘Sam Pine’ swings with a retro funk groove while Simpson has some fun at the mic. ‘Twanging a New Tune’ gets fingers snapping and hips swaying. Opening horns tantalise ahead of the queen’s assured crooning. Next, a N’awlins shuffle with Andrew Ogburn’s juke joint piano sees her happily kick a troublesome man to the kerb.
Balancing the jubilation, Simpson shows how heart-achingly sweet a soulful slow-burner can be with ‘Come on Babe’. Dean Hilson’s silky sax walks right beside her. With lyrics assembled in the studio, you believe the stories. You feel those blues. She tells us that “I work ’til my soul is crying”, yet assures us on ‘All My Tomorrows’ that ’til the day her story is told, she’ll “still be standing proud and tall”. No doubt. Another favourite for my collection.
Release: out now via Waterfront Records
Written by Chris Lambie