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Thursday, October 18, 2007

REVIEW: Peach - "The Real Thing" (2006)

It feels so good to be able to pick a compact disc out of a pile of hundreds, even thousands and to be able to listen to it in its intended and entire duration. Peach immediately welcomes her listeners with warm and soulful rockin' blues that affords that certain "southern hospitality" that you should demand from purchasing an American blues album produced any time after Robert Johnson had "met the devil at the crossroads" and offered his soul in trade for an innate guitar playing ability.

The first two songs on The Real Thing allow Peach just enough time to invite you into her mansion of blues and let you get acquainted with her tasteful style and sensuous adornment, while the next several speak of some all-too-realistic viewpoints of our life's relationships and concerns.

The 5 star blues musicians featured alongside Peach play with the spirit of over 100 years of blues experience and the undying quest to spread the language of the blues on songs such as "Love You" and "Won't Be Long", while Taj Mahal's timeless guitar and harmonica playing ripen Peach's vocals "right on the tree" on their hip shaking duet and title track, "The Real Thing".

Once the "fruit has been picked from the tree" we see it's true potential for ripeness on the five songs either written or co-written by Peach herself.

What really got us movin' in our seats was the up-tempo-but also emotionally stimulating, "Might Have A Move or Two", where Peach and Marty Grebb have co-written a humongous blues number focusing on the empowerment of self and the realization of the "true value" our lives so dearly hold.

Another co-written "masterpiece" tucked away near the end of The Real Thing is this very cool rockin' electric blues song about the drummer, James Gadson and his "Big Back Beat". Marty is kickin' out the jams on the piano all while the rest of the band fits right into the groove and allows Peach to regain her faith in some "real men".

The perfect ending to the perfect album would have to be, you guessed it, the perfect song. "I Must be In A Good Place Now" is that song, and The Real Thing is that album. Subtle melodies flow from the accordion as the butterfly who has recently been named in song flutters in its post-pupal stage across the meadows of our eardrums. All while we are serenaded with Bobby Charles' masterful and humbling lyrics as taken in through the golden vocal chords of today's songstress, Peach

More about Peach
It's a rare joy to discover an artist whose music adds to, or at least enhances, the meaning of life. A rare joy, a relief, and also an underlying apprehension; what if you had never happened upon it? What if you had been just plain lazy about listening to it? And then finally you did and fell in love with it and then wondered how you ever managed a day without it. That's when you know it's The Real Thing.

Peach isn't exactly a new artist and this isn't exactly her Blues Rock Records debut. But when you have the singular pleasure of discovering this ever-fresh, Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter-guitarist, whether it's with her current masterpiece (no exaggeration) The Real Thing, her acclaimed live underground release Peach Live! (2002), which won her a coveted distribution deal with Morada Music, or her first recording, the EP The Cure for You (2001), then it doesn't matter that you're coming to the party a little late. As long as you're here...

The prestigious L.A. Music Awards have been dialed in to Peach from the not-so-long-ago beginning, naming her Blues Artist of the Year in 2001. Noting the Anderson, Indiana native's consistent quality as a musician and performer, this music industry arbiter of talent followed it up with an Award of Excellence in 2002. But the L.A. Music Awards wasn't the only one to give credit where it's due.

With no artificial anything, The Real Thing is a historical record, sounding the return of the lost art of music with an unmitigated who's-who of blues and jazz players showing up to back Peach on this truly spectacular collection of songs produced by Marty Grebb (The Band, Bonnie Raitt, Etta James).

She duets with Taj Mahal on the title track, and serenades "Beyond My Wildest Dream," backed by Reggie McBride (Tony Bennett, Keb' Mo') on upright bass, whom she admiringly calls "the Mack truck of bass." There's The Band's Garth Hudson (keys, sax, accordion); James Gadson (The Temptations, Beck) and Gary Mallaber (Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen) on drums; Peach's own drummer/percussionist Maria Martinez (Barry White); baritone sax player Cece Worrall Rubin (Diana Ross, Guns n' Roses); Paul Barrere (Little Feat), Jon Woodhead (Leon Russell), and Rick Vito (Fleetwood Mac) all on slide; guitarist Amos Garrett (Stevie Wonder, Maria Muldaur), "the world's most bendy-note guy," according to Peach; and horn arrangement by Lee Thornburg (The Tonight Show Band, Tower of Power) on "Someone Else is Steppin' In."

The list is long on power players, but to Peach, what really mattered was who was right for each of the lucky 13 tracks, half which she wrote, including the gorgeous ballad, "The Cure for You," featuring a sax solo by smooth jazz superstar Mindi Abair. The balance were written by the likes of Bobby Charles, who says he adores her rendering of his 1972 classic "I Must Be in a Good Place Now"; Danny Timms and Jodi Siegel, who penned the Triple A radio emphasis track, the sultry "Come Up and See Me Sometime"; and Jerry Lynn Williams (Eric Clapton) and Grebb, who conceived "Beyond My Wildest Dream."

"They're songs that I dug up by local songwriters that I thought were incredibly great pieces of music," explains the former University of Denver voice major, whose accompanist was Condoleezza Rice, who left the piano for politics as National Security Adviser. "It's all pretty sexy music, but it's also really real."

A tireless philanthropist, Peach is the co-founder of Rock 'n Cure, an annual event she produces and performs in to benefit Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's breast cancer and stem cell transplant research. The organization's 2003 flagship concert format fundraiser, which Peach headlined with special guests The Delgado Brothers at the House of Blues in Los Angeles raised $78,000 - not bad for a first run production.

Just as Rice didn't know at that time that she was destined for The White House ("She was on her way to being a great starving musician," Peach laughs), Peach didn't know she was a blues player.

But the real thing always shines through. She found her voice, and here's to everyone else discovering it too.

Learn More: Peach.us
Learn More: Peach on Myspace
Learn More: BluesRockRecords.com

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