‘Never Say Never’, due out on 5th October, is the second album release from singer songwriter Sari Schorr. Born and raised in New York, she worked her way through the local dive bars and clubs, before finally earning her entry into the New York Blues Hall of Fame. With a husky voice that’s reminiscent of the likes of Joanne Shaw Taylor, but with more volume, and a five octave range that is more common in opera singers, this is a voice perfect for powerful blues rock.
Impressing Mike Vernon sufficiently to pull the legendary producer back from the brink of retirement, and surrounding herself with a good solid ‘Engine Room’ of musicians, the stage was literally set for recording the new album, as the plan was to do it live in the studio.
The new songs, and their lyrics reflect a life on the road, with all the hardships and experience that comes with touring and recording, and I always believe that the best blues music, comes from personal pain and heartbreak (with a little sunshine thrown in).
As we might expect, given the background information, the album opens with a travelling blues song, as we hit the road to Memphis in search of the ‘King of Rock and Roll’, but this quickly evolves from a jazz warm up into a blistering rocker as Schorr lets loose almost right from the start with that powerful voice of hers. This is an excellent showcase from Schorr, not only for herself, but the whole band get a great opportunity to introduce themselves to the listener. Schorr may be the brains behind this album, but the brawn is supplied by her band, the ‘Engine Room’. Ash Wilson reminds us of this at the opening bars of ‘Thank You’, before handing the reins back to Schorr to rip a few stripes off anyone that dares to cross this lady. Heart-breaking ballad this is not! This is summary justice for anyone stupid enough to believe words will never hurt me.
Even when the tempo slows down, the volume and power of the vocals is still evident in the love song ‘Ready for Love’, with strong guitar following the chorus like an audible mirror reflecting the highs and lows of the lyrics, and is an excellent sequel to the previous break up track.
Ash Wilson was an inspired choice for the lead guitar on this album, already a recognised blues man himself, his style is a natural foil for Schorr’s singing. He doesn’t shred the frets un-necessarily, instead picking out just the notes to complement and support the vocals in just the right places.
‘Valentina’ starts with the drums commanding a marching, almost double time beat, and with simple vocals this time, Schorr effortlessly lays out this track with her huskiness adding an edge to this gritty tale of hardship and hard work.
‘The New Revolution’ kicks off with a T-Rex style riff that endures throughout the track, and supported by a Hammond style organ, gives a throwback sound to the seventies, and reminds us of the days of protests and social unrest.
The following two tracks, ‘Beautiful’ and ‘Turn the Radio On’ slow the album down and allow Schorr to stretch her range and tug the heartstrings a bit, both are tremendous ballads, almost dipping into a country style if it wasn’t for the classic blues solos ripped out by Wilson.
It takes great musicianship to make heartbreak and separation sound as good as ‘Maybe I’m Fooling’, but that’s exactly how this track comes across. Instead of taking us down, right from the opening guitar, you know this is going to be an uplifting rocking blues monster. In a similar style, ‘Back to L.A’. and ‘Freedom’ are reminiscent of that good old AOR movement, and all the great female fronted bands of the eighties, mixing up Tina Turner, Alannah Miles, Joan Jett, and Heart to name just a few.
And finally to close out the album, the title track ‘Never Say Never’ allows Wilson to play a smooth slow handed melody, to gently accompany the soft keyboards, and steady drums, as Schorr takes centre stage and commands the listener’s attention with her sweet sultry voice. This track above all shows what an excellent group of musicians have been brought in and bonded together by the production team, to not just support what must be the voice of the decade, but to hopefully be the start of something special for this songbird and her Engine Room.
King of Rock and Roll
Ready For Love
The New Revolution
Turn The Radio On
Maybe I'm Fooling
Back to LA
Never Say Never