Being born into a legendary musical family is a mixed blessing with the pressure of following in giant footsteps. However, singer and songwriter Vaneese Thomas, daughter of Rufus and younger sibling of Carla, has no worries. soul courses through her veins, mixing with extraordinary talent in a breathtaking synthesis of limitless musical expression. Her fifth release, Blues For My Father, a mix of blues and R&B, should be the breakthrough she has earned and deserves.
Ten original tracks written by Thomas and two covers feature Buddy Williams, Shawn Pelton, Joe Bonadio and Perry Gartner (drums), Will Lee, Paul Adamy, Steve Spear, Ray Sanders and Ernest Poccia (bass), Robbie Kondor (organ, harmonica) and Jon Cobert (piano), Tash Neal, Jeff Mironov, Al Orlo, Donnie Baer, Bruce McDaniel, Wayne Warnecke, Nick Moroch and Rob Mathes (guitar), Marvell Thomas, Paul Schaffer, Ricky Peterson, Shelton Becton and Darryl Clayton (organ), Bill Harris, Jim Spake and Kirk Whalum (saxes), Tim Ouimette and Kenneth Jackson (trumpet), Berneta Miles, Carla Thomas, Marvell Thomas, Angela Clemmons, Alan Gorrie, Sharon Bryant and Dennis Collins (background vocals).
Deep rooted country blues on “Southern Central Blues” have Thomas yearning “I been a’waiting, sitting at the station, been a’watching with great anticipation, the tracks that will bring you back to me….” The swinging shuffle “10X the Man You Are,” presents Thomas “cutting” a former lover. A jewel among gems, the duet with Carla on the R&B “Wrong Turn” showcases her throaty, sensuous chops with “Well, I was headed in the right direction, staying steady in my lane, but temptation pulled me off the road,” while the sisters harmonize like blue angels on the chorus.
Thomas smolders on the minor funk “Wrap Your Arms Around Me.” The minor shuffle “Corner of Heartache and Pain” finds Thomas exorcizing hurt. Like Natalie Cole’s “Unforgettable,” Thomas sings a poignant duet with her late dad on “Can’t Let You Go,” immense emotion pouring forth with “Darling, I love you, tell me, won’t you tell me, you love me, too.”
The stomping “When My Baby Gets Home” gets contemporary. Thomas is combative on the funky “Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em Behind.” The slow, sexy “Southern Girl” tantalizes.
Menacing swamp blues emphasize the rueful poetry ”Lonely Me.” John Fogerty’s mythical “Old Man Down the Road” becomes a heavier, bluesier and more authentic bayou cautionary tale. Accompanied only by guitarist Rob Mathes on ‘”Blue Ridge Blues,” Thomas ends her riveting set with her dynamic range unleashed on tear-stained lyrics.
Vaneese Thomas in an artist with grace, intelligence and a magnificent voice capable of expressing tough and tender emotions effortlessly. She is a cultural treasure and a natural resource to be used for heat and warmth.