Lake Effect – Road to Irene’s

Apr. 18, 2012

It’s not often that I hear the perfectly balanced and phrased combination of fine soul music intermixed with touching contemporary jazz. Such a combination is present in the new effort from Lake Effect, Road to Irene’s, a cool, saucy, and confident array of original tunes by the nucleus of the sound, guitarist Robert Davis and keyboardist Neil Artwick and featuring the striking vocals of Michael Avery.

The album is the kind of album you can put on and either settle back and groove with your honey or simply get into that “me” zone with yourself and a glass of whatever floats your boat. Whichever scenario you choose, just go there and let Lake Effect take the controls for this ride. The deliciousness of their sound is surely a commanding one.

The sweet and soulful lead track, “Last Night,” can remind you at times of The Isley Brothers; at other times, Phil Perry; at yet other times, whoever turned the lights down for you during that period of solid soul. Ummm. The magic and the melody. A splendid melding.

“Renee’s Song,” with its strong guitar interplay between Davis and guest artist Jeff Golub (who steams it up on 2nd guitar) is a mid-tempo funky little gem with sass, while “Where’s Bill” turns up the rhythm just a tad and gives the tonal sweetness of the melody a nice tweak.

Going even a bit further on tempo and intensity, “Close Cover” gets a little hotter, though not scorching – just the right temperature for a well-crafted contemporary jazz tune with direction and some strut. “Happy Music” is just that – happy. Avery’s vocals breathes a wonderful waft of airiness and life to this one.

The cleverly titled “Theme For A Horse Thief” has that slick and jazzy saunter one might associate with a Steely Dan laid-back track while “Stay With It” beckons you to the dance floor to put on some of those classy moves you’ve been boasting about to your friends and anyone else who’ll listen. Now’s the time to “show up.”

A little Marvin Gaye style slips in on “Let Me Into Your Heart,” as Avery again seeks to mesmerize.  A true lady pleaser, I’m sure. “Smooth Nova” should give itself away through its title. Yes, a smooth, comfy little bossa nova number to bring in the island breezes and exotic night and drinks.

The finale, a bluesy, gutsy little tune with much flavor bids us adieu with style and charm.

This is truly one album that I had so much fun enjoying that it wasn’t until the end of the recording that I realized I was at the end –and hadn’t heard a single “so-so” or bad track.  I find that most commendable. Wherever the Road to Irene’s begins, I want to join in on that trip. – Ronald Jackson