Sunday, March 8, 2009

Review: Nicole Hart "Treasure"

I have been a fan of Nicole Hart for several years--I used to play the NRG Band Live disc at KJLU nearly every Sunday night when I was on the radio. Nicole has always had a great voice, and a way to "sell" a song, and a really good band leader in Lance Ong. I've always thought that the key for her is strong material. Well, "Treasure" is her major label debut (on Blues Leaf Records) and she has captured all that Nicole Hart magic on one disc. Nicole sings her ass off, and she gets strong musical support from a group of New Jersey's A-listers, including Sonny Kenn, Ron Rauso, and Marc Shulman on guitars, Swami and Ian Carroll on drums, and Sandy Mack on harmonica on two tracks. She covers a wide range of styles from country to R&B to hot blues to mid tempo ballads. The strongest songs here include a hot cover of Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground," featuring the aforementioned Lance Ong on keyboards. Albert Castiglia brings his tasteful guitar to one track, a wonderful Patsy Cline-ish cover of Percy Mayfield's "You Were Lyin' To Me." And Hart does a bravura take on the Fletcher Henderson/Henry Troy song "Gin House Blues." There is a sweet cover of Paul Kennerley's "Heart Trouble" which cuts the take by Martina McBride. And there are two Hart/Ong originals, including the title track, which fit right in.

Do you get the idea I like this cd? It's real good. Give it a spin and you'll agree with me. You can buy this cd at

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