Greezy Wheels, Mo McMorrow, Lizzy Lehman, Floramay Holliday, and Amanda Mora
Reviewed by Margaret Moser, Fri., Sept. 27, 2013
You can tell Greezy Wheels frontman Cleve Hattersley has a sense of humor. Kitty Cat Jesus (MaHatMa Records) features sister Lissa Hattersley singing the sly title track and more, wife Mary Hattersley on summery fiddle, and the throaty punch of Penny Jo Pullus ("Blowin' Up Stuff"). Over the decades, Greezy's developed a jazz-swing charm reminiscent of vintage Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks, but with an unmistakable Texas twang that keeps them forever Austin. Mo McMorrow's latest comes with prestige points: The redoubtable Richard Bowden produced Hangin' on a Nail and accompanies her journey of songs. It's a travelogue of the heart ("Rose Mo Chroi," "5am Freight") befitting McMorrow's roots as a Canadian/Australian/Irish singer and songwriter, with a distinctive blues, folk, and country flair. Likewise, Lizzy Lehman's A Place I Know You'll Love makes the most of her mellow brandy vocals and loping, mostly countrified backup that includes fiddler Warren Hood and drummer Rick Richards. Lehman's love for Shawn Colvin and Brandi Carlile evidences itself in her thoughtful, storylike compositions ("Stars," "Summer Song"). Floramay Holliday's Twirl! (Roseneath Records), an educational children's album, isn't necessarily geared to fans of her solo career or Sis Deville, but here's hoping they'll give these love songs a spin for any little ones nearby. Holliday's confident vocals genuinely shine on "Saturday," which features Carolyn Wonderland's remarkable whistling, and Holliday's own polished songwriting on 24 shortish tracks. Amanda Mora's jazz-pop talent is in her blood – for generations on both family sides – and it's obvious in her inviting guests Eliza Gilkyson and Phoebe Hunt to join on Awaiting the Sound. Mora's clever originals doop-shoo-wah, bop, and sway gracefully ("Cutting the Chord," Pecan Blues") – the perfect soundtrack for cooler nights.