Reviewed by Tony Cummings
Jessica Clemmons is a country singer born and bred in Texas who has found success through the unlikely route of teaming up with a band of young British musicians, the bandits. After opening for acts like Boyzone, last year Jess & The Bandits delivered this feisty debut album. Although there is a touch of steel guitar here (like on the Carrie Underwood-like power ballad "Love Like This") it's John-Louis Riccardi's full throttle electric guitar and brother Ricci's powerhouse drums which are the perfect country rock underpinning to Jess's sassy vocals. The songs here emanate from Clemmons' trip to Nashville where she spent 10 days writing with a notable bunch of Music Row songsmith's (Jeff Cohen, Sherrie Austin, James T Slater and Lindsay Ray). The album was recorded in Nashville too and whether it's the motivational "Nitty Gritty" ("It ain't complicated, we're all the same when it comes down to the nitty-gritty"), the call-to-party "Ready Set" which wouldn't be out of place on a Dixie Chicks album, or "Drunk On Me" where Jess gives her man an ultimatum - he can get drunk on whiskey or he could get drunk on her - the mood of the album is confident, strident and real. There are no songs of faith on this set but Jess, who leads worship at her home church in Texas, is careful to avoid the "let's get drunk, let's get laid" exhortations of some country music. So that even when a track like "Single Tonight", which got Radio Two plays, tells a tale of a frisky young lady on the prowl in clubland she soon finds that the subject of her desire is a boorish drunk and doesn't go home with him. All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable debut.
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