The Austin Chronicle

Record Review

By Raoul Hernandez, June 12, 2009, Music

Lissa Hattersley

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

While her sister-in-law's fiddle on Jimmy Van Heusen "Shake Down the Stars" assumes a Western swing blues groove atop which Lissa Hattersley's sultry pace makes you thirsty for something Southern with crushed ice and fresh mint, don't assume How I Spent My Summer Vacation is another spoke off Greezy Wheels. More June Christy than Patsy Cline, Hattersley inhabits the sweet spot between both, while Creative Opportunity Orchestra mainstay John Mills single-handedly tips the singer's first solo LP toward the former's populist jazz. Mills and Jon Blondell on trombone cordon off opener "Love Is a Crime Scene" by the Greezy Wheel himself, brother Cleve Hattersley, while beat sensei Barry "Frosty" Smith leaves a chalk outline around the bodies. Tiptoeing follow-up "Talking in Your Sleep" then adds Zhenya Kolykhanov's balalaika as Mills' sprightly tenor feeds back into his and Blondell's back-alley brass refrain. The saxist's braying tenor/baritone weave crochets "There's No Fool." Lissa's no fool either, "Moonstruck Love" lit in a deeply 1970s Slowhand mood, though it's "Fugitive Animal," in which she voices the song's title character "howling at the moon" in the heart of a shadowy urban landscape, that bests Summer's lead-off cut as the album's dark horse, or rather dark mutt. Chris Gage, who gets props for production aid on the disc, provides the beast with just the right spotlight of electric, slide, and acoustic guitar. His sole accompaniment, with Cara Cooke's harmonica, seats Lissa's languid take on Ned Sublette's "Nightworker's Song (Blue Time)." Beach, back porch, or basement speakeasy, Lissa Hattersley's postcard from the plains of vocal chamber intimacy arrives just in time for Austin's long, dark night of heat relief.


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