The Blues Broads, Blue J, Beautiful Light, Ten Foot Twins
Reviewed by Margaret Moser, Fri., Oct. 12, 2012
Any grass growing under ex-Austinite Angela Strehli's feet gets stomped the moment she opens her mouth to sing. And in the company of Dorothy Morrison, Tracy Nelson, and Annie Sampson, the four Blues Broads are an army of powerhouse voices. The quartet's lifted up to heaven ("Oh, Happy Day," "Mighty Love") and anywhere else within earshot ("Two Bit Texas Town," "River Deep Mountain High") on its self-titled CD/DVD package. With Emmy-winning director John Korty at the helm, the visuals are as righteous as the harmonies. The brassy sound of the Jackie Myers Band on Ten Foot Twins relies on Memphis-style funk for some of its touchstones ("Bad Bad Things," "Too Close"), but there's more here than simple retro love. Myers has a good ear, bringing in Ephraim Owens on trumpet as the songs take right turns with a jazzier edge. Thankfully, she avoids breathy jazz vocals, using instead her earthy lungs ("Pushin' It," "All She Wrote"). The four-song sampler Bree Bruns released last year teased us into thinking she resides in jazz. Nyet! Fronting the eponymous Blue J, the local songbird brought new originals by producer Josh Espinoza to the table, 10 tasty treats from bossa nova ("Never Fade Away") to Latin dance numbers ("I Want To Take You There") and snappy high-hat instrumentals ("Austin Renaissance"). Tonya Tyner's Beautiful Light rose quietly this year, bright country rock balanced with spiritually thoughtful lyrics ("Mariana") and the fine hand of Stephen Doster producing. Tyner's lengthy history on the West Coast brings a natural, Southern California familiarity to her melodies ("Get On Out," "I Keep Trying"), wrapped as they are around story-songs of a life that steers her in unexpected directions ("On Your Wall"). Offhand good humor ("Uh Huh") keeps the de rigueur introspection from slowing the album's pace and delivers the right punch when needed.