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Elizabeth McQueen & the Firebrands

The Fresh Up Club (Gravitron)

Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., July 11, 2003

Phases and Stages

Elizabeth McQueen & the Firebrands

The Fresh Up Club (Gravitron)

Every once in a while, a musician moves to Austin and knocks the town on its ear. Elizabeth McQueen is one of those. She possesses the killer combination of irrepressible energy, a sassy personality, and more talent than she's probably aware of, and it's all on display on her debut, The Fresh Up Club. McQueen has also rounded up a killer band, the Firebrands, that includes a couple of guitar hotshots, Chris Miller (Marcia Ball, Hollisters) and Andrew Nafziger (Bruce Robison, Karen Poston), plus guest shots from Casper Rawls, no slouch in the guitar department himself, as well as Dave Sanger, Jim Murphy, and John Michael Whitby, all of Asleep at the Wheel. Even with all that firepower, McQueen's voice is still the star of the show. A clear, supple instrument, it moves from the high-steppin' honky-tonk of the Robbie Fulks-penned "You Shouldn't Have" to a smooth and swinging original, "The Oldest Story," to a blowout take of Chuck Berry's "Thirty Days." There are a couple of soft spots, especially on some of the tunes she wrote herself, where McQueen shows that she still needs some seasoning. But the whole of The Fresh Up Club puts her in the company of such strong female voices from Texas as Libbi Bosworth and Rosie Flores. The road is wide open for Elizabeth McQueen.

***

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