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Bill Reid & The Fewer Sorrows Band
©2011 Independently released
Review by Lucky Boyd


Whenever a great album comes out, I like to look for a lesson that future recording artists can take from it.  Today’s lesson is about technique.  Led by the stellar production work of Brian Collins (who had hits with “Hello Texas,” “Statue Of A Fool”), Bill Reid releases his best work to date.  Collins uses some outstanding technique to capture the intended spirit of each track.  Bill Reid is what is known as an ‘off phrase’ vocalist.  That is to say his vocal style doesn’t rigidly conform to the downbeats of the music, making way for dynamic emphasis and a more emotional presentation.  There have been some very famous ‘off phrase’ singers, like Sinatra, Martin, and Kristofferson.  Lightnin’ Hopkins was probably the most ‘off phrase’ vocalist in recent times, but it was mostly because his music wasn’t really ‘on phrase,’ but I digress.  There are a couple of ways to handle background vocals for these types of vocalists.  One is static phrasing, which allows the lead vocal to be different from the background, and mirror phrasing, which keeps both the lead and harmony ‘off phrase.’  The latter is very hard to capture correctly.  Many producers are so interested in capturing the meter, they forget the vocal quality; the same is true for many harmony vocalists.  This album contains some of the best mirror phrasing you’ll ever hear.  J’Nae Fincannon (renowned jazz singer, “Don’t Forget The Lyrics” contestant, 1997 Miss Hollywood) brings life to Reid’s original “Because You’re There.” Her contribution to the album provides the perfect accessory to an already stunning ensemble.  While all the musical contributors on this project are part of the ‘who’s who’ crowd of session players, Bill Hullett stands out as his guitar work adds a complementary flavor to the album.  Collins and Hullett demand a tightness of the session band, and the band delivers big time.  While Reid’s voice is the focal point of each tune, surgically delivering a bevy of well-written compositions, there are times when you can’t help noticing the fundamentally perfect rhythm section.  Reid writes two, co-writes one with his wife Elise, and performs tunes by an array of writers such as Townes Van Zandt, Sammy Cahn, Hoyt Axton, Jerry Jeff Walker, Kris Kristofferson, and others.  The opening cut sets the tone for the disc, getting you ready for an entertaining ride through exciting Country Blues and soothing, relatable Story Songs. 

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Bill Reid