Sonja Lee Band

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CD Review

Blue Suede News
Spring 2013

Washington Blues Society Bluesletter

Vocalist Sonja Lee, a native of Bellingham, Washington, leads her band through fourteen tracks of often sultry, bluesy, roots American Jazz, R&B and Blues, and in doing so, takes a giant step in establishing herself as a talent to be reckoned with.

A fixture on the local music scene, Lee exhibits great range, depth and passion, conjuring up comparisons to Joan Osborne, Diana Krall, Etta James, Anita O’Day and Sarah Vaughn. Lee’s rich, deep alto can sound sweet, sassy and earthy one minute, silky and sultry the next, and then explode with excitement and emotion.

There’s no studio trickery here; no Autotune, no smoke and mirrors, just great singing and playing. Lee makes the Etta James classic “At Last” her own, and spotlights saxophone player Thomas Harris. “Looking For A Man To Satisfy My Soul” is a rousing exercise in hard Bop. “The Rock” has an R&B/Rock feel that showcases drummer Grant Harris’s understated yet authoritative chops.

Standup bassist Robert Goldtooth Ray provides effectively subtle but always sympathetic backup, and he played a major role in the album’s stellar production. Piano player Julianne Thoma is a standout accompanist and a very good soloist, and young guitarist Matthew Ray van den Heuvel exhibits some strident Blues licks on Big Mama Thornton’s “I’m Feeling Alright.”

An old friend of mine and I used to talk about records in our collections we deemed as “Late Night Albums.” Sonja Lee’s Telling It Like It Is falls into that category for this journalist. Sonja Lee’s sophisticated music is a balm for the soul.

-Bob Cianci

Other Reviews

Washington Blues Society Bluesletter