Slow Burn

Tina Schlieske

Movement Recording Company, 2005

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


What the #$@&*# is wrong with you people?

No, not you, faithful readers. I'm talking about the tone-deaf, quality-proof major-label types who have failed to line up like hungry dogs begging for the chance to sign Tina Schlieske to the fat contract she clearly deserves. You think some overrated third-tier indie singer-songwriter gets the likes of Benmont Tench and Rami Jaffee and Greg Leisz and DJ Bonebrake and Garrison Starr and Shayne Fontayne to play on her album? You think vocal and musical talent that deserves to be overlooked gets invited to be the frontwoman for Double Trouble (as in, Stevie Ray Vaughan and…)? You think FEMA did a pretty good job responding to Hurricane Katrina?my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250


I don't know much, but I know quality when I hear it. Tina Schlieske is the kind of talent you don't even hesitate to compare with people like Bonnie Raitt, because she is so clearly in that class -- a smart, sensitive, earthy singer-songwriter with a superb voice and a musical reach that blurs the lines between country, rock, blues and gospel with giddy sureness.

You can hear it from the very first verse of "Come On In," a joyous blast of sultry country-blues, full of tangy lines like "Come on in, come on in / There's room in my confession for one more sin," embellished with gospel-tinged background vocals and honky-tonk sax.

It's a long, sweet ride through the rest of this disc, full of lilting country-rock numbers ("Adeline," "Honey Baby Sweetie," "Slow Down") interspersed with roadhouse blues-rock ("Baby Blue"), smoldering mid-tempo cuts ("Hardly Tell"), and a trio of rapturous ballads ("Love Everlasting," "Never Knew Love," "For The World To See"). The title track ("Scars Of A Slow Burn") is an especially effective and affecting country-blues, colored with gentle Hammond and soaring steel.

Not surprisingly given the pedigree of its supporting cast, Slow Burn is full of sharp arrangements and lively performances. The gospel-chorus vocal arrangements on several tracks here are an especially nice touch, adding rich seasoning to the rootsy musical base. The proceedings close on a positive note with the upbeat affirmation of the steady-burning gospel-blues "Everyday" ("You've got to take a look up ahead / Don't you know that sun is just waiting to shine").

Beyond Schlieske's remarkable musical range, the most notable thing about this album is the simple fact that she sings every word like she means it -- no, more than that -- like she's living it. Slow Burn shouts class and artistry and heart and soul and range and intelligence -- which means you'll probably never find it in the top 40 rack, but you can surely pick up a copy for your own enjoyment. Just don't forget to laugh at the A&R guys while you listen.

Rating: A-

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© 2005 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Movement Recording Company, and is used for informational purposes only.