All posts by JR Miller

Sara Niemietz, “Twenty “Twenty

What is musical eminence? Maybe a musician whose emotion and depth pull you into her soul? Next, add a bit of rock/jazz fusion, topped off with a bit of Peggy Lee. There you have it. Ms. Sara Niemietz shows eminence with her album, Twenty Twenty. It is, to say, astounding.

Sara opens with the beautiful cover, “Smile.” But it’s the next track that warrants extra attention. Sara’s second track, “I Smile,” written by “Reigning King of Urban Gospel,” Kirk Franklin, emits light from all angles. Both tracks makes those “Smiles” contagious.

Sara exhibits her talents with emotion, range, and backbeat rhythms. “The Nearness of You” captures an early 60s jazz intro with a taste of the standards. “All Your Love” shows her voice mixing with her musicians. “Feet Don’t Touch the Floor” is authoritative, and shows versatility.

The production to Twenty Twenty is spot on. Sounding as if the album was studio recorded, each track was recorded live. Regarding the recordings, Sara states “It’s my happy place.” With seventeen tracks, Sara is in her “happy place” often. I’m J.R. Miller with High Note Reviews, and this is Ms. Sara Niemietz singing perfect Twenty Twenty.

Louise Mandrell, “Playing Favorites”

What do you do when an accomplished country artist covers some of the finest musicians ever? It’s easy, you sit back, listen, and enjoy. I might be playing favorites but this little lady knows her stuff, and how to flaunt it. I guess “all those hours of practicing paid off.” She’s Louise Mandrell, and her killer new release, her first in over fifteen years, is Playing Favorites.

Louise opens with “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” an awesome country song with a bit of the blues flavor added. Ray has rubbed off on her. Covering Johnny Cash is difficult, but she nails it with “Ring of Fire.” “Tennessee Waltz” is another cool piece, you just need a rocker, a front porch, and lemonade. Vodka is optional. “Bye Bye Love,” is a rockabilly piece, but Louise doesn’t roll too far from country. “Hello Darlin” gets my heart beating when she sings, “Hello Darlin, let me kiss you.” But “Night Life” is my favorite. Louise shows us she is much more than a country artist providing us with bluesy jazz flavors. She closes with “You Don’t Know Me,” a perfect ending.

Covering fifteen tracks is strenuous, but Louise Mandrell keeps herself out of the box. Once you think you’ve figured her out, she will “rock” you back and forth with something different, and is having fun at the same time. I’m J.R. Miller with High Note Reviews, and this is Louise Mandrell Playing Favorites.