Roadhouse Album Review: Angela Easley’s powerful vocals lift up “Rise”

Angela Easley — “Rise” — Class A Records

Angela Easley’s vocal style covers a lot of fertile ground, rooted in her native Mississippi and blooming now in Nashville.

It can be a smoldering orchestral tapestry with a touch of gospel, as in “I Can Let Go,” the album’s opener led by Easley’s piano, with the sweet harmonies of The McCrary Sisters rippling around her. Or it can be the smart and sassy “Runnin’ Out of Time,” laced with horns and bouncing with a danceable beat. Or it can be a soaring duet with Shelly Fairchild on emotionally powerful title track, “Rise.”

Then there’s the tough rocking of “Don’t Let the Devil Down,” followed by the plaintive soul in “One More Last Time.” It’s all wrapped up in the country-comfort of the smooth “Crazy Rain.”

Easley is a co-writer on all the tracks except “One More Last Time,” which is hers alone, and all of them display an intelligent feel for elegant lyricism and musical arrangements.

Easley’s voice, style and songwriting sensibilities evoke both the tenderness and toughness of Southern soul, with enough blues to make your heart ache in just the right places. The band provides its own emotional support system.

There’s only one big problem with this album — it’s only six songs long. I guess it’s what passes for an EP these days (the concept having been created by RCA in 1952 for the 45rpm format. There were 28 Elvis Presley EPs, for example, some of which I confess to having owned).

But I digress.

Easley’s voice just demands much more listening pleasure than you can get here. Check her out at the Bourbon Street Blues & Boogie Bar in Nashville, where she’s been a regular for four years. Or take a look at her YouTube channel.

Tracklist and credits:

1 I Can Let Go (Featuring The McCrary Sisters) 4:00
Written by Travis Bowlin, Herb Aaron, Angela Easley
2 Runnin’ Out Of Time 3:48
Written by Russ Harkins, Angela Easley
3 Rise (Featuring Shelly Fairchild) 4:55
Written by Dave Isaacs, Angela Easley
4 Don’t Let The Devil Down 3:31
Written by Lori Kelley, Angela Easley
5 One More Last Time 4:18
Written by Angela Easley
6 Crazy Rain 5:26
Written by Dave Isaacs, John Miner, Angela Easley
Produced by Walter Scott & Angela Easley
Mixed & Mastered by Bob Olhsson
Photography by Bryan Collins
Angela Easley, Piano / Walter Scott, B3 Organ / Calvin Johnson, Bass
Brian Czach, Drums / Marcus Finnie, Drums (Track 2)
Randy Peterson, Guitar / Billy Contreras, Violin (Track 5)
Matthew Gros, Saxophone / Micah Holman, Saxophone (Track 4)
Garen Webb, Trombone / Roy Agee, Trombone (Track 2)
Kiran Gupta, Trumpet / Jim Williamson, Trumpet (Track 2)
Shelly Fairchild, Background Vocals
Heidi Burson, Background Vocals
The McCrary Sisters, Background Vocals (Track 1)
Beverly McCrary / Deborah McCrary

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