Dr. Lozelle & the Blues Contenders, |
(MoJo Dealer, 2001)
This self-produced CD features 12 tracks that run the gamut from straight blues to Cajun-influenced tunes. The title, and indeed the liner notes, seem to hint at some Latin influence ("On El Bloque, in the neighborhood, the houses and building echo the sounds of Banda, del Norte, Folklorico, Rap, Rock, Hip-Hop, Opera, Old School, R&B and Blues. Loz Bluz was the child of mixed parents -- black, brown, and white -- cha-cha-cha") but the closest the CD gets to that, aside from a residence in East Los Angeles, is a few mildly Santana-like guitar riffs.
The musicianship is pretty good here. Featuring T.J. Sullivan on guitar, Marco Piali on drums and percussion, James Rhodes on bass and Lozelle Jennings on harp and accordion, the band cranks out a proficient mix of danceable tunes.
Jennings is the principle songwriter, credited for 10 out of 12 tracks. His songwriting is not bad, with catchy titles and some nice phrasing. Sullivan wrote one song, "Mama's Got a New Tattoo." Most memorable are "When The Blues Gets Bad" and the catchy "Queen Matilda," a song about a lady wrestler.
Jennings also sings lead vocals, with Sullivan and Rhodes as backup. On most of the tracks, the vocals, although passable, lack that certain something that makes some songs great. It just sounds like Jennings is trying way too hard. Funky and cool is not a quality that you can force into your voice, no matter how hard you strain. The best track, as far as vocals, is "A Cajun Affair," in which he forgets about being a bad dude and just sings.