Solitaire Miles,
Susie Blue & The Lonesome Fellas
(Seraphic Records, 2015)

Chicago jazz singer Solitaire Miles gets a little weird on this new release; she gives herself a new identity, Susie Blue; forms a new band, The Lonesome Fellas; and takes on a new genre, western swing. Some might see it as a surprising turn. Miles sees it as an evolutionary step: "Looking for ways to increase my vocal agility, I took a job with a local retro country & western swing group," she explained. Moved by the material, she started researching the era and the genre and found it was a close parallel to what she did as a swing singer.

If not a new career, a new avocation was born.

And here's the deal. If you don't know Solitaire Miles' jazz work, you'd assume she had always done western swing. Her country chops are deadly, her feel for the music deep and her treatment of it sure. There's no slumming here, no patronizing put-ons; just cool renditions of nearly-forgotten songs.

Cindy Walker is represented here by three songs: "I Hear You Talkin'," the wonderful "Me & the Man in the Moon," and "Love is a Lingering Thing." Other composers of classic western swing tunes included here are Floyd Tillman, Spade Cooley and Lefty Frizzell. Miles takes a group of writers who are not known in the public mind for sophisticated songs and shows us exactly how deeply into the human psyche their work penetrates.

In addition to a history lesson, she offers fine vocals backed by a first-rate band. It's good stuff.

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

14 November 2015

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