Artist: Laura Tate
Album: Let’s Make It Real
Label: 811 Gold
Release Date: 05.19.2017
Dallas-born and raised singer and actress Laura Tate called in top notch Los Angeles session musicians, for this, her fourth album. Tate has spent time in New York and Nashville in addition to L.A. and it’s clear she knows her way around. A group that includes bassist/producer Terry Wilson, vocalist Teresa James, drummer Tony Braunagel, and horns led by Lee Thornberg is attention-getting, but the combination of Tate’s voice and song selection is the major draw to the album for me. Yes, I confess that I am huge admirer of the late, and too often underrated Stephen Bruton, who incidentally also grew up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. So, it was gratifying to see Tate select two of his tunes, (“Nobody Gets Hurt” and “Big Top Hat”) among her dozen. Her voice is more on the sultry, smooth side, and while she’s certainly not in the vocal powerhouse category, she proves to be versatile: this album features not only blues, but rock, R&B, and elements of jazz as well. As the title implies, she faithfully delivers these tunes without showboating or histrionics. The energy and soul comes across convincingly.
Let’s look a little more closely. Between the single writer and co-writers, there are twelve of them here on the dozen tracks, covering some very different angles of love. From Naomi Neville’s “Hitting on Nothing” to Phil Lynot’s “Boys Are Back in Town” to Arleen Nicastro’s “I Know You Lie,” Tate carries mostly a tender, playful demeanor. Rather than being angry, it’s as if she’s shaking her finger and winking at you, or in other places just being coy in a sexy way.
Rollicking piano from ace Jeff Paris and strong guitar work from Billy Watts are augmented by the horn section and background vocals. Wilson’ arrangements, production, and engineering are strong across the board. Tate can’t miss in this setting and gives us an easy-going vibe that makes for a fun listen.