Monday, December 1, 2008

Anni Piper "Two's Company"

"Two's Company" is Anni Piper's 3rd release, after her self titled 2004 disc and 2006's "Texas Hold 'Em." There is something exciting about an artist's 3rd release. They finally come into their own, and there is a clarity and passion on a 3rd disc that was only hinted at in the earlier releases. Well, this disc is the real Anni Piper--after winning the 2005 Australian Blues Music Award for "Best New Talent" on this cd she brings the goods in abundance. She fronts a crackerjack band which features Richard Steele from the Austin Texas band "The Small Stars" on guitar. Piper starts this set with Leroy Carr's "Blues Before Sunrise" and it is a joy--tight, strong, confident. "Live to Play" comes up next, and it is fine--one of five songs here that also appear on her debut. Then there is a short but really good acoustic gem "Man's Woman" which features Allan Vander Linden on guitar. Then a vocal showcase "Untrue" which is followed by "Jailbait," featuring a nice nice guitar dual between Richard Steele and Marcus 'Bro' Adamson on slide. Absolutely smoking, the best song on the disc. And the entire second half of the cd continues the promise of the first....listen to "Mystery of Love" and "Love's Truly Blind." There are half a dozen songs here that would sound great on your favorite blues radio or on your cd player at a party. The thing I like best about Anni Piper is her vocals--she can sing anything from the deepest to the poppiest blues (i.e "Watchdog") and she makes it all work. On the title track she sounds like Bonnie Bramlett back about 1970, with those vocals framed beautifully by a guitar break by Vander Linden and Adamson doing their best Eric Clapton licks. "Come In My Kitchen" is not the Robert Johnson song but an original--ten of the 12 songs here are by Piper or Piper/Vander Linden.

It seems that a lot of women blues singers start out trying to sell their looks, trying to get seen more than heard. Well, Anni Piper looks good--but she sounds even better. I write here often about new artists that are coming up, and Anni Piper has the goods. This is the kind of cd that I wish Sheryl Crow and Todd Wolfe could have made together 15 years ago.

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