Ever since the Asylum Street Spankers broke up, I've been heartsick. That was one helluva group that never got the full respect and adulation it so richly deserved. Thus, I've been pining for more of the Spankers' eclectic style, and, yee-haw, along comes Lisa Biales to assuage my grief! Wellllll, actually, she'd started the process with her previous gem Just Like Honey (here), but too much is never enough, and so I was more than ready for Round Two. Like Christina Marrs, Biales has a spirit that's oft happy-go-lucky but blue when clouds gather, funky-shuffley as the urge strikes, even sly and satirical, as in her own Magic Garden (hmmmm, mushrooms? what on Earth could she be talking about?). Am I the only one who feels this way? Oh hell no! Harry Nilsson loves Biales as well (and loved the Spankers too). Okay, he's dead, but I've been channeling the guy for years—every time, in fact, I reach for a glass of bourbon. That Harry!, he sure loved a good tune, and he sure knew how to bend the elbow. No two ways about that. I think that's why I don't have to do a damn thing every time I put on a Biales disc: the bottle just floats over and pours itself.
Like the Spankers, like Nilsson, like Leon Redbone, like a whole lot of people who have omnivorously provincial tastes, Lisa Biales loves old-timey stuff and does the oeuvre proud, not only covering righteous standards-writers like Sippie Wallace, Mississippi John Hurt, W.C. Handy, and others but adding her own uptone spark to all the be-bopping, pub wailing, picket fence smiles, and hand-clapping happy times. Then there's her band, which accords itself like a decorous pub, barbershop, or whorehouse quartet. Through the CD, one can picture the gents decked out in striped shirts, handlebar moustaches, bowties, all the rigueur of the era. Not only the flouncy title cut but quite a few of the selections demonstrate this in spades. My favorite song? Biales' do-up of Harvey Brooks' snappy A Little Bird Told Me but that's a REALLY hard call to make 'cause every single track here sparkles, and if you don't find yourself caught up in the hip shakin', foot stompin', let yer hair down ambiance of it all, don't write me, I'm just a critic, call Forest Lawn instead. They'll know exactly what your problem is. Otherwise, join me 'n Harry, set a spell, grab yourself a beer and a sidecar, and make sure you keep that little hand towel close by 'cause yer a'gonna need it to wipe the grin off your face when we're done listening to Singing in my Soul.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles