FAME Review: Annika Chambers & The Houston All-Stars - Making my Mark
Annika Chambers & The Houston All-Stars - Making my Mark

Making my Mark

Annika Chambers & The Houston All-Stars

Available from Amazon.com.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

Annika Chambers knows just where the rockin' gets rollin', the blues doffs its shoes to go barefootin' on the dance floor, and how soul flows and glows through the alleyway with its brothers and sisters, getting down to business, wailin' and taking command. In all that, she finds a huge slice of giddy-up 'n go from guitarist Corey Stoot in various cuts (esp. the opener), a cat who strongly reminds the well-versed listener of Ernie Isley's liquid versatilities mixed with Gary 'Moses Mo' Moore (not the bluesrockin' Still Got the Blues for You Gary Moore, but the guy from Mother's Finest, in my mind the best funk rock group ever concocted). David Carter and Brad Absher join him in oft equally vivid fire and sparks, first in burning lead runs and then tons o' brass 'n sass in chord choices, occasionally waxing Steve Cropperesque (Sweet Sensation, gratis Absher, who also handles all slide work on the album).

The horn section, if the liner notes are correct, is really just Anthony Terry multi-tracking, and he ain't exactly slouchin' neither, coloring up the background, mid-ground, and spaces in between. But really, the more I listen to the ensemble, the more I'm convinced that they'd've been right at home touring with the aforementioned Mother's Finest. Chambers knows how to get things fired up and raucous but can also lay back quite nicely into a mellifluous ballad, as in Down South, then ratchet it up into a powerful shout possessed of irresistible energy and spirit. Tons o' blues-funk everywhere: catch That Feel Good for a sample right off the bat in cut 7, and then get down with her take on Average White Band's Put It Where You Want It.

Teaming up with bassist Larry Fulcher was a masterful stroke. That guy's been in on so many tasty slices—including a way cool tribute to Lowell George, not to mention membership in the hipper than hip Phantom Blues Band (here)—from 1994 to this very minute that finding his name in any set of credits is a guarantee of quality and earthshakin'. A workhorse, he not only plays the 4-string here, but a little guitar as well, contributes some backing vocals, arranges everything, and then co-produces with Montrose Records label owner Richard Cagle (who also engineered the affair).

But the stand-out clearly is Annika, who can transition from a stomp 'n shouter to a soulful crooner to a whispering seductress to a belt-it-out'er with a steely backbone (covering damn near all of them in It Hurts Me to my Heart), so it might help to know she rose to the rank of Sargeant in the Army, served two deployments in Iraq, is working on a Bachelor's degree in Communications, and this is, I kid you not, her debut CD!, though it sounds like she's been on the circuit for 20 years. Anyone who can slam into the business with this much talent has one hell of a career ahead of her.

Oh, and know there are two Fulchers in the mix: Larry and Dominique, his daughter. I point it out as Dominique boasts solid skills in writing, and That Feel Good is about as sassy as music comes, so please note her name. You'll be happy you did in days to come.

Track List:

  • Move (Fulcher / Chambers / Fulcher)
  • Barnyard Blues (L. Fulcher / Finnigan / Schell / Dunbar)
  • Jealous Kind (Bobby Charles)
  • Lick 'Er (Annika Chambers)
  • Trust Me (Al Staehely)
  • Down South (Dominique Fulcher)
  • That Feel Good (Dominique Fulcher)
  • Put It Where You Want It (Sample / Gorrie)
  • Guitar Boy (Annnika Chambers)
  • Love's Sweet Sensation (Cropper / Floyd)
  • It Hurts Me to my Heart (McCoy / Singleton)
  • Let's Get Down to Business (B.B. Long)

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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