CD REVIEW: Erica Sunshine Lee - The South Will Rise Again
by: Cyrus Rhodes
"good time country is back"
- INDIE MUSIC DIGEST-
Artist: Erica Sunshine Lee
Genre: Americana, Country, R&B
Weakness: More Vocal Mojo and vocal risk taking
Erica Sunshine Lee just released her latest release “The South Will Rise Again” in 2014. From songs about true love, broken hearts, and honest stories from her childhood, family life, to that famous "Walk of Shame", she holds nothing back in her writings. It was common for the underage vocalist to sneak into bars to sing karaoke every night of the week after working 80 hours per week as the leading car salesman for 7 years. Whether she's in her Cadillac driving across the US, touring internationally with her band, or writing songs in her living room, you can rest assured there's a bright future for SUNSHINE.
The CD kicks things off with the “Girls Night Out” a rock steady intro groove that serves up rocked out guitar, well-crafted melody and reckless vocal presence from Lee. This first track is like an inviting welcoming mat and makes a great first impression upon the listener. Track 2 shifts gears a bit with striking “Georgia For This” rocking guitar driven follow-up piece that serves up impressive musical build, thought provoking lyrical content against a feel good vocal delivery from Lee. Track 3: “Everyone Loves a Country Girl” shows us even more songwriting brilliance from Lee. This piece showcases a impressive songwriting prowess, melodic vocal presence and well placed Americana instrumentation along the way. As the CD slowly unfolds I can hear many musical textures reminiscent of classic vocal acts as Melissa Etheridge, Alannah Myles, Deana Carter, Sheryl Crow, Dixie Chicks, Shania Twain, Melissa Etheridge, and even Jewel. The music itself combines classic elements of R&B with an aftertaste of Soul and Contemporary Americana Country. The musicianship of everyone involved is clearly above the bar. You will also notice lush layers musical instrumentation layered everywhere which besides the 4 piece standard includes Pedal Steel, Banjo, Fiddles, Harmonica, Accordion, Piano, Organ, impressive solo guitar, lush harmonies all built upon a thick as a brick rhythm section. The CD has some truly impressive moments on it showcasing impressive songwriting, world class instrumentation via Lee’s appealing Mezzo-Soprano. Zeroing in now on Lee – her voice goes down smooth as she makes the vital (singer to listener) with her swagger and persona. She also showcases a crystal clear vibrato. Her voice reminds me a lot of Reba Macintyre and Dolly Parton. Lee can hold your attention well during some of the CD’s solitary moments as well. Lee has a good look and sound and is one artist worthy of your attention and praise. All engineering aspects check out well. CD possess thick low end punch and crystal clear high end clarity. From the heartfelt title track and “Train Wreck’ to defiant “Holler if You’re Blue Collar” and thought provoking “Maybe That’s when you’ll Notice” to jumpy ‘All my Bucks go to Starbucks” and rocking “Chunky Dunk” to melodic “All I Can Give” track this CD has something for juts about everyone. Track 10 “You Saved Me” features The Viper Creek band). CD ends with Track 13 “How Bout Them Dowgs” the prefect finale statement for a CD like.
All songs over 3.5 minutes tend to drag you to the finish line. Lee needs to let loose a bit more within the studio environment, take more vocal chances here and there and bring more vocal mojo to the table overall. She's got it in her. She really needs to let it all hang out behind the glass and take more vocal risks. During the finale moments of her music she also needs to seize the moment and deliver more raw vocal power and emotion. Lee comes on a bit strong vocally during other segments and as a result fails to build her vocal performance as the song moves forward. Great vocalist build their performance so it's compatible with the flow and ebb of the song.
From start to “The South Will Rise Again” is an amazing collection of songs from Erica Sunshine Lee. Note for note, song for song there isn’t really a weak piece on this entire catalogue. All pieces are short and sweet musical experiences, each one possessing its own signature groove, and musical personality to call its own. Erica Sunshine Lee is an infectious artist with a good look and sound. She knows how to write and sing you a powerful song and occupy a special place in your heart win the process. Looks like good time country is back.