JACKIE JACKSON: Are You With Me (Label: Evejim)

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Jackie Jackson is a West Coast soulstress who makes a living working the clubs and lounges of Los Angeles and on the strength of this never-less-than interesting 10 tracker her show could be well worth checking out. Recorded on Leon Haywood’s Evejim label, ‘Are You With Me’ is brand new, contemporary soul but with a decidedly old-fashioned twist that gives it a peculiar charm – a charm increased by Ms J’s vocal style – not always note perfect, it’s what some might call “rustic”. I’d prefer to call it rough, raucous and real and you’ll hear it to best effect on the LP’s big tune, ‘You’re Not Slick Enough’. This one’s a classic cheating song that will recall the best of Shirley Brown, Laura Lee and even Millie Jackson. It’s a mix of killer melody and monologue and it’s good to know that honest music like this is still being made. That song’s an original, as is the album’s title cut which is big on the flavours of Hi and Memphis – hardly surprising since it features Teenie Hodges. For the rest of the album Jackie relies heavily on covers including a pair of Ike and Tina Turner songs – ‘Fool In Love’ and ‘I’m Blue’. Admittedly she doesn’t cut it on a version of Eddie Floyd’s ‘I Ain’t Never Found A Man’ but there’s a remarkable take on Barbara Lynn’s ‘If You Should Lose Me’ and a good reading of the label boss’s ‘It’s Got To Be Mellow’. Haywood features on organ throughout and other featured musicians include James Gadson, Michael Wycoff, Melvin Dunlap with Peggi Blu and Brenda Eager on back up vocals.
(BB) 3/5