“Old Girl”
JayRay Records
Publicity: Blind Raccoon
By Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © September 2020
Lisa Mann – singer; songwriter; two time Blues Music Award winner in the “Instrumentalist – Bass” category; and winner of the Blues Blast’s “Rising Star” award – and Mary4Music go way back, and although I do consider her an old friend and an old associate, I wouldn’t necessarily say that makes her an “Old Girl”.  Over the course of close to a dozen years Lisa has had songs on several of our “Mary4Music Presents: Keeping The Blues Alive” compilation discs and this is at least the third release of hers we’re having the pleasure of reviewing.
“Old Girl”, Lisa’s fifth release, is a five song project that features four original tracks and a Rosetta Tharpe cover.  Joining Lisa – on the bass and vocals –  are: Jason Thomas on guitar; Michael Ballash and Dave Melyan on drums; Louis Pain on organ; and Sonny Hess, Brian Foxworth, Larhonda Steele, and Arietta Ward on backup vocals. 
The title track has Lisa lamenting over being a mature woman in a world that caters to Millennials.  Just a few of the many things that frustrate her are having someone say “Madam, may I help you with your things?” or someone else getting the door for her.  Apparently, this type of stuff has her feeling like an “Old Girl”.  As sure as I am that you know this Lisa, it will get worse…. especially when you hit my age :>).  Ironically, it’s just one of two tracks that  Louis Pain appears on, and the somber mood his organ adds to the rhythm seems to accentuate Lisa’s pain.  On the other hand, Lisa’s sounding everything but old on the vocals. 
So, most of us know many relationships that were ruined by monkeys in a metaphorical way, such as a person burdened by serious issues or a drug/alcohol drug addiction who was said to have a monkey on their back, but how many of us know of a relationship that was at risk of being ruined by actual monkeys?  Lisa does!  Based on a true story, “It’s The Monkeys Or Me” is not just the song’s title but they are words that one of her friends actually had to tell someone she was on the verge of a serious relationship with.  Before she was moving in, the monkeys were moving out – end of story.  It’s an uptempo number with Lisa and Dave pounding out a smokin’ rhythm, aggressive rhythm and lead guitar by Jason, and Lisa joyfully belting out the songs hilarious lyrics.  BTW, if you want to know if the monkeys stayed or went, ya gotta listen for yourself.    
The studio, the photographer, the graphic designer, the promoter, the ticket takers, the deal makers, the advertisers, the cab drivers, the airlines, the stage pros, the CD manufacturers, the hotels and motels, the internet and phone companies, ASCAP, sky caps, phone apps and even musical societies are only a part of the ‘everybody’ Lisa is referring to while stating “‘Everybody’s Making Money” but me’.  That may be true Lisa, but you’re having all the fun, right?   With a pounding performance on the drums by Michael, this is another powerful rhythm led track and midway through, when Lisa asks him to testify, Jason rips off some of the disc’s best guitar work.
“That’s All” is a Sister Rosetta Tharpe song that goes back to 1938. As a song that pleads for love and equality, I am sure it became topical many times since then, as it once again has today.  One sheet writer Rick J. Bowen stated that “In the times we live in, Tharp’s music is needed more than ever.”  Amen, Rick!   The intensity with which the song was sung and presented musically by Lisa, Jason and Dave were the masterful tribute a song like this deserves. 
The disc closes with an amazingly beautiful song that anonymously acknowledges the ladies and gentlemen who, throughout the decades, gave us so much wonderful music.  They may have never achieved fame, they may not have ever been featured in Rolling Stone or appeared in Billboard magazines, but they will always be remembered “Around Here”.  As I mentioned earlier, being someone who is very familiar with Lisa’s music and has seen her perform live countless numbers of times, this track may very well be the best I’ve ever heard her sound.  Backed by the four fabulous background vocalists, this is indeed a song that should be played in church.  Regardless of faith, anyone hearing it will not only feel uplifted but will be able to relate as well.
Side note to Lisa – I hope this old man lives long enough to hear this “Old Girl” sing many, many more songs.  You rock, my friend!               
To find out more about Lisa Mann just go to her website – www.lisamannmusic.com. Wherever you go and whomever you talk to, please tell them the Blewzzman sent you.
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping the Blues Alive Recipient