Please keep in mind these video performances are
representative of different venue types. Cee Cee & Rob
always tailor their performance as needed, i.e. family
friendly or otherwise.
COLD HARD GUN - Vully Blues Fest - Switzerland
BEFORE 30 SUNS - Germany
CONCERT FOOTAGE - 10'Ke's Attic - Belguim
BLACK RAVEN - Private Gathering - San Diego, CA
RIGHT TO SING THE BLUES - Benefit Concert - Grants Pass, OR
No performer puts as much of themselves into their craft as Cee Cee James. Her songs are so personal and her performances so intense that you have to think that she leaves a little piece of her soul in every song that she writes. I’ve been listening to her albums for seven or eight years now and she never ceases to amaze me with how deep she can go within herself. James’ latest release is of a largely acoustic nature, but Stripped Down & Surrendered (FWG Records) is no less personal or intense.
James and her husband Rob “Slideboy” Andrews composed a dozen songs that cover the bases of the human psyche, going from despair and desperation to hope and redemption to salvation. She calls the title track, which opens the disc, “the anthem for the second half of her life,” as she comes to terms with inner demons. Songs like “Hidden and Buried” and “The Edge is Where I Stopped” describe how far those struggles took her, and the inspriational strength of the following tracks, “He Shut The Demon Down” and “Glory Bound,” is uplifting.
“Love Done Left Home” is a somber tune about a relationship that’s reached its end, and “Cold Hard Gun” is a positively chilling requiem for a friend’s lost struggle with substance abuse, but James’ bares it all on the stunning “Thank You For Never Loving Me,” a scathing reproach to her father for his lack of love for her and her family.
The mood lifts considerably with the loping “Before 30 Suns,” a blues shuffle loaded with swagger and sass, and “You’re My Man,” a sweet and playful love letter from James to Andrews. “Miner Man’s Gold” is a poignant tribute to a fan and friend who recently passed away. The gentle closer, “So Grateful,” finds James giving thanks for overcoming the demons and redeeming her life.
Andrews’ guitar work is just amazing throughout the disc and the rest of the band (Dave Malony – drums/percussion, Kevin Sutton Andrews – lead/rhythm guitar, Jeffrey Morgan – keyboards, Terry Nelson – keyboards) is excellent, too. While the general ambiance of Stripped Down & Surrendered is, indeed, stripped down, there’s still plenty of fire and white-hot intensity in Cee Cee James’ vocals and delivery. This is an album that will reward anyone who listens, lifting them from a dark place to a brighter one.
SOME DIURNAL AURAL AWE
Stripped Down & Surrendered it might be, the acoustic pluck and slide telling us we have indeed foregone heavy electrification, but in James’ vocal there is enough power to propel the music for as long as it wants to run and with the title track pulsing out a work-team beat to an accompanying vocal chorus, a single tapping on metal, and a whipping echo in the chamber of this deep blues.
What does add extra pleasure is how next The Edge is Where I Stopped has James in a crisp tonal clarity, a gentleness that conveys the sweet timbre of her voice. It is all about possession of a true range, and Cee Cee certainly does. Partner Rob ‘Slideboy’ Andrews plays more blues-real acoustic slide on third Hidden and Buried, electric organ putting some swirl as well as a delicate draw from the power grid into the mix.
I have previously reviewed James’ appropriate comparison to the vocal heritage of Janis Joplin, and on these acoustic tracks I can hear some of that tonal quality rather than in the more obvious grit of her rockier and raucous work. This is more about the range, and I do like the exposed ambition of this album. Love Done Left Home is absolutely gorgeous, Cold Hard Blues is swelled with affecting power in the core of its blues, and Glory Bound combines the elements of the whole with aplomb: acoustic slide, the female chorus, James’ sweet scream injecting emotional impact, urging holy father wash over me in the gospel of blues surrender. Amen.
Review in Dutch by Eric Campfens
When figuring out whose CD I actually had lying before me I found remarks to as "cross between Janis Joplin, Bonnie Raitt and Bette Midler" , names as "vocal volcano" and "best blues singer since Memphis Minnie." Well, is that praise or not? Fact is that she more or less collects awards and nominations. Together with husband and musical partner Rob 'Slideboy' Andrews she has recently released "Stripped Down & Surrendered”.
The album contains twelve self-penned songs, which shows that Cee Cee James not only as a singer fully reflects the above denominations, but that she is also an excellent songwriter. It is not a coincidence that she won the John Lennon Songwriter Award. The title of the CD can be explained in two ways. The first, there is no abundance in instruments. Cee Cee and Rob provide vocals, guitar, percussion and bass. Extra help is present in the persons of keyboard players Terry Nelson and Jeffrey Morgan and guitarist Kevin Andrews Sutton. And secondly, the title of the first song, in which she talks about the misery in her life. And precisely therein lies the essence of her songs. It is personal, she exposes herself and is therefore honest and open. Beautiful are the gospel "He Shut The Demon Down", the raw blues "Cold Hard Gun" and the beautiful "So Grateful" with which the CD is closed.
An absolute gem. Musically stunning and the lyrics are well worth to be listened to
and to have them quietly to sink in.