No Depression review: “Get Satisfied with Lisa Mann’s CD!”

posted by R Leckey Harrison
No Depression: The Roots Music Authority

Thank Star Wars for Satisfied, the CD that was produced, played, and mostly written by Lisa Mann. She also manages the band and books all their gigs. What’s Star Wars have to do with it? It piqued her curiosity, which melded her talent with a homegrown sass into “How can I play that…?”

It all started at B&B Loans in West Virginia, where Lisa first played a Hohner copy bass, like the one Paul McCartney played. Today she’s playing a 6 string Tobias and Warwick. Ooo, a six string you say, in blues music? Oh yea, the girl has sass.

Check out the way this album opens, with See You Next Tuesday. Normal set-backs? “See you next Tuesday, I don’t want to deal with you today.” Not convinced? Listen to Til The Wheels Drop Off, “I’m gonna keep on doin’ it because it’s all that I’ve got…what makes my body rise is the music in my head….I’m gonna do it till the wheels drop off.” She’s all in, this Lisa Mann, and it shows. It’s a gentle sass though. It’s an energetic playful sass, not in your face sassy, as she is incredibly friendly, and grateful, judging by the closer on this album, Doin’ Alright, a song that coincidentally shows off her vocal ability after an album of her bass playing abilities.

Did you know she “thanks” Johann Sebastian Bach on the inside of the album? The reason she went to six string bass to begin with was to play Paganini’s 24th Caprice properly.

Yup, that’s how talented and original she is.

In this her second CD, Lisa composed nine of the thirteen songs, and in five of those songs she invites fellow musicians in to help out. The song Always Nobody features Lloyd Jones on vocals and guitar, and it was his experiences that inspired the song. Lisa credits Rae Gordon, one of the backup vocalists with inspiring See You Next Tuesday. Do you see a trend here? Lisa sees the story in lives around her and can turn it into a song. The Kings of Black Gold, featuring Mitch Kashmar on harmonica, is a personal statement of hers, and she couples it with a swampy growling beat. It thumps the message home quite well, and has its own metaphorical message as well. On a great slow blues tune, Surrender to the Blues, listen at the 2:12 mark. Such a sweet little Joe McCarthy horn embellishment, it is. Joining her Really Good Band (Jeff Knudsen – guitar, Michael Ballash – drums, and Brian Harris – Keys) is a total of fifteen others, making this album the high quality production it is.

According to Lisa, “Using the 6 for blues raises some eyebrows, but today you see more and more bass players using them (especially in R&B), although not necessarily the way I use it. I often play chords and double-stops (often dominant chords) when the guitarist or keyboardist is soloing in order to strengthen the chord that’s playing in the background, while maintaining the integrity of a solid bass line at the same time. I do so with a flamenco-type plucking technique, using strong thumb downstrokes on the low note while plucking upward with both index and middle fingers for the chord, or by stroking the entire chord downward with a flicking motion or with my thumb.”

Does that not excite you!? That is an artist. That artistry shines best on this record on an aptly titled tune named “Alone.” A jazzy little number, and alone it is. Its Lisa’s voice and her bass, and you get to hear first-hand, in a song that sounds every bit like an electric piano, except when she hits the harmonics, how talented this woman is. A great blues tune with a delicate touch, and an excellent production decision to do it this way.

Any blues fan will find something to satisfy them on this CD. Some will find many things to satisfy them. Add this Lisa Mann CD to your collection. Get Satisfied yourself.