Elizabeth McQueen & The Firebrands – The Fresh Up Club
Austin transplant Elizabeth McQueen has garnered a lot of friends and fans in the three years since she relocated there from suburban Washington, D.C., and it’s easy to see what they like. Unassuming, self-assured and a splendid interpreter, McQueen has a little of Kirsty MacColl’s vocal appeal, particularly in the galloping “I Know I Cross His Mind” (the Paul Carrack-ish organ by David Beebe completes the impression).
A honky-tonker at heart, McQueen ranges from two-steppin’ (“Lyin'”) to light blues (“Drive Alright”) to rockabilly (Chuck Berry’s “Thirty Days”) to torch (her own “The Oldest Story”, which sounds vintage). The Firebrands bring their own inspiration, keeping things moving at a brisk pace with unexpected fills and fillips around each corner. Check out the ringing guitar lines on “What Am I Worth?” and the jam at the end of “Thirty Days”.
The disc is dotted with stellar instrumentation. Guitarists Andrew Nafziger and Chris Miller are supplemented by Leroi Brother Casper Rawls on the kickin’ opener “I Don’t Want To Stop”; Jim Murphy provides lap bass; and Asleep At The Wheel’s John Michael Whitby donates some killer keyboards. Bassist Lindsay Greene and drummer Brian Smith provide rhythmic bedrock. Dave Sanger, who also produced, can’t help himself but sit in on about half the tracks. But the star is still McQueen, whose personality shines through in the day-brightening vocals.