It Haven't Been Easy

Miss Lavelle White

Antone's / Discovery Records, 1997

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/08/1997

Usually, whenever I've had a pretty crappy day, be it for personal or work-related reasons, I like to turn to the blues to pick me up. I find the blues to be a great catharsis, and even though it doesn't solve the problems I have, it helps me deal with them with a smile on my face.

Today was ruined by a call with news I didn't expect. Wham - out of the kitchen, into the Pierce Archives (ouch, my ears, my ears) and to the CD player with the latest disc from Miss Lavelle White, It Haven't Been Easy.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

White's style of blues isn't pure; it's more of a crossbreed between the blues, R&B and a touch of jazz thrown in for good measure. And while White creates an enjoyable album here, I would have preferred hearing something a little more pure.

A legend of the blues scene (and once a fixture of Chicago blues clubs), White's voice doesn't have the grit and all of the power like Koko Taylor, but she holds her own quite well, thank you very much. On numbers like "I've Never Found A Man To Love," "Wootie Boogie" and the title track, the emotion is what matters. And from the first listen to the last, you can tell that White is telling her life story in these twelve songs.

White could very easily pose as a nightclub torch singer at times; "Lay Down Beside Me" is as sultry of a crooner as any I've heard, while she shows off her roots in the birth of rhythm and blues on "Can't Take It (I Don't Give A Damn)".

In a sense, I shouldn't be critical of White's blending into other genres; it's very difficult to hear pure blues these days. Lonnie Brooks definitely has one foot in rock and roll; so does Lonnie Mack, The Kinsey Report, George Thorogood and Eric Clapton. So White is in good company when it comes to the mixing of genres.

But something - albeit a minor detail - is missing in this instance. Maybe it is the "it's been a tough life" grit in her voice that I wish I heard.For that case, maybe I'm nitpicking and still wishing that I had grabbed a purer blues album. Whatever it was, the end result still put a smile on my face - but it was shorter-lived than it might have been.

Don't get me wrong, It Haven't Been Easy is a solid album, and one worth your time, attention and money. Guess it's just hard to review positively when I'm pissed off. (Then again, the old joke says, "Better pissed off than pissed on.")

It Haven't Been Easy is a nice snapshot of the life of a founding member of the rhythm & blues genre, and has some solid performances on it. It's a nice way to spend 50 minutes trying to relieve the stresses of the day.

Rating: B

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© 1997 Christopher Thelen 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 Antone's / Discovery Records, and is used for informational purposes only.