Veronica Lewis | You Ain’t Unlucky | (Blue Heart)
3 1/2 out of 5 stars
She’s young, has a retro name (Archie’s girlfriend with Jerry Lee’s surname), writes most of her own material, wears cool clothes (white saddle shoes with a Stray Cats tee shirt), and is incredibly talented…so what’s not to like about 17 year old roots blues piano pounder Veronica Lewis?
That’s a rhetorical question easily answered with “nothing” especially after spinning the precocious Lewis’ sizzling debut. She flies over those 88s like an established pro and while she’s not quite in Marcia Ball’s league, at least yet, Lewis is certainly on the right path. These eight tunes (six are originals, which in itself is impressive) may not be instant classics but they show she’s willing to write snappy lyrics to accompany her fleet fingered piano work. The music is straight ahead, stripped down rocking blues and boogie woogie. She’s accompanied by just drums and sax, no guitar or bass, and that’s all that’s needed since Lewis’ hands handle the rest.
From the bluesy shuffle of “Put Your Wig on Mama” to the rollicking instrumental showcase appropriately titled “Ode to Jerry Lee,” and the New Orleans’ second line swagger of “Fool Me Twice,” Lewis zips through these eight tracks in just over a half hour; long enough to establish her bona fides yet never get repetitious. She sports a better than average voice too, somewhat like a young Wendy Waldman, which makes the whole concoction go down easy. It’s particularly effective on the slow, slinky swing of Louis Jordan’s “Is You Is My Baby.”
There’s a tendency to give players this young some critical wiggle room, especially on their first album. But no leeway is needed on this terrific set that shows Lewis to be well on her way to great things in a genre and on an instrument where it’s safe to say she doesn’t have a lot of competition, especially as a young woman in a business (roots/blues) where there aren’t a lot of others vying for attention.
You get the feeling that as much fun as these upbeat tracks are, the energy is raised a few notches in the live arena where Lewis should really shine. For now, the peppy You Ain’t Unlucky will have to do. But with touring hopefully starting back soon, it’s likely Veronica Lewis will be stealing the show on plenty of blues festival bills, banging on her piano while filling the dance floor playing music that was popular before her grandparents were born.