Roadhouse Album Review: Teresa James has perfect musical vision through “Rose-Colored Glasses”

Teresa James & The Rhythm Tramps – “Rose-Colored Glasses Vol. 1” (Blue Heart Records, Sept. 17)

Teresa James’ latest album, “Rose-Colored Glasses,” is a joyful, sensual, love-laced ode to the optimism of its title.

It’s also full of honey-smooth vocals from James, whose voice just seems to keep getting better — born into Texas swing and nurtured by the easy rhythms of West Coast blues and soul.

“This new album is kind of veering a little bit more into soul,” James says. “But to me, blues is more of a state of mind. It’s where you’re coming from. It’s the attitude and the heart that you bring to it.”

And this album does have plenty of attitude and heart, mixed with just the right amount of sass.

The sensuously ripe opener, “Show Me How You Do It,” with sinuously intertwined vocals and guitar, is an invitation to the delights to come. “Takes One To Know One” swings gently behind James’ soulful vocal turn. The title track focuses on finding love … “you are the rose-colored glasses I’ve been looking for… ” “I Got A Love I Wanna Hold On To” takes a little bluesy turn, adding a sexy sax, but it keeps up the album’s reliance on James to deliver just the right vocal touch.

Spoiler Alert: Of course, there are more songs here than I just mentioned. There are twelve. They are all excellent. James delivers her soulful touch eloquently and elegantly on each one. You can be sure, though, that no matter what the style or substance, James makes it sound like a very personal delivery. Her vocals are layered with subtlety and nuance, and the appropriate suggestion of sensuous smoke.

James and her husband/bassist Terry Wilson, who produced the album, wrote or co-wrote all the songs, coaxing the lyrics from their personal sensibilities.

The musical backers frame the vocals perfectly. In addition to the usual Tramps — Billy Watts with Wilson on bass and alternating drummers, Jay Bellerose and Herman Matthews, Texas guitar slingers Yates McKendree, Anson Funderburgh, Johnny Lee Schell, Lee Roy Parnell, and Snuffy Walden add their chops. Paulie Cerra and Darrell Leonard add horns, with vocalists Richard Millsap and Nicki Bluhm, and Michael Starr on strings. Kevin McKendree assists on keys.

Maybe the best thing about this album? It’s labeled volume one — so there must be a volume two in the works.

Video of “Takes One to Know One”:

Track Listing:
01 Show Me How You Do It
02 Takes One To Know One
03 Rose-Colored Glasses
04 I Got A Love I Wanna Hold On To
05 All You Ever Bring Me Is The Blues
06 Wish It Into The Cornfield
07 Once The World Stops Ending
08 Everybody Everybody
09 Things Ain’t Like That
10 When My Baby Comes Home
11 Rise Together
12 Gimme Some Skin

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