Savannah Road by Brigitte De Meyer

Brigitte DeMeyer - 'Savannah Road' - cover

This is De Meyer’s sixth album and it feels to me like she is really starting to hit her stride . The songs here are strong, confident, gutsy and original. The album is steeped in Country, blues along with a splash of jazz and she references the deep Southern states musically and lyrically producing a fine album firmly rooted in the Americana field. A native of California, De Meyer has relocated to the Country capital of Nashville and all of that history has seeped into her music. Her voice and stylings reference Bonnie Raitt and stretch back to the likes of Memphis Minnie.

The album’s title track, ‘Savannah Road’, is a superb opener that was inspired by Gregg Allman’s 2012 Autobiography “My Cross to Bear” (a highly recommended rock n roll memoir). Brigitte claims that the book helped her feel for a connection to Allman and to the American South. It works in highlighting his music with the Allman Brothers that is so clearly rooted in in that deep southern feeling that is abundant here. Listening to the song it’s easy to feel and hear what she means as the slide guitar slices through the core of the song. A lovely guitar figure takes into ‘Say You’ll Be Mine’ that has a subtle second vocal lying underneath De Meyer’s commanding country twang and the sweet vocal will have it engrained in your brain after a couple of plays.

This is a record that will repay your rapt attention as it’s full of memorable melodies, great musicianship and excellent vocals. It’s a simple affair with mainly acoustic guitars,vocals, piano and some light percussion with occasional unobtrusive backing vocals.

There are echoes elsewhere too of the soundtrack to that classic George Clooney film “Oh Brother Where Art Thou?” This is especially prominent on what is perhaps the highlight of the album,’Home Ground’, a song about finding a that special place where you can be free that comes in around the half-way mark. Elsewhere we have the jazzy feel of ‘Lightnin’ Poor’ where De Meyer comes over all steamy like a young Maria Muldaur (she of ‘Midnight at the Oasis’ fame) and is another fine example of the albums variety and eclecticism.

‘Walking in the Big Man’s Shoes’ is an interesting jazzy tune complete with New Orleans style clarinet and some top-notch whistling. This one seems to be trying to imagine what it’s like walking in God’s shoes for a while. This is followed by the deep dark soulful ‘Conjure Woman’ a mysterious tale of voodoo spells with some tasty dobro and a dangerous breathy vocal that reminds me of the late, great Etta James at her best.

There are lots of echoes of other great artist right across this record but “the blues” is elastic enough to fit Brigitte’s individual stylings into the format whilst retaining due respect to the greats and carving out her own little niche, she seems to have accomplished that feat here with consummate ease.

If you have even a passing interest in blues and jazz then this record is something you should try to hear, a contemporary artist with an eye on the past and the future – you won’t be disappointed. It’s out on 29 April.

Reviewer: Greg Johnson

The title track Savannah Road is included on this month’s NE:MM playlist so why not have a listen for yourself

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