Lelia Broussard - World Cafe Live, 1/25/07
It hardly seems like six months could have passed since the last time I saw Lelia Broussard play, but her first show of her own at the World Cafe Live was an excellent opportunity to both start the new year off with some good live music and check in to see what Lelia's been up to. Not counting the new hair color, the answer to that question is clearly songwriting, as her set was loaded with great sounding new songs.
She's also got her band really sounding great as the combination of Lelia on acoustic guitar, Jef Lee Johnson on electric guitar, Chico Huff on bass and Myra Casales on percussion has been working together so long now that they easily get a musical groove on that all parties seem to really enjoy. Every once in a while someone in the band including Lelia might do something different that surprises and delights the others, which just adds to the groove. That the audience gets to come along for the ride makes coming to one of her shows such a total pleasure.
She opened with "Rise", soon to be the title track of her reconfigured Lil-Yah album. "I Like You In Mine" allows the band to establish the groove with Lelia leading the way both on guitar and with a soulful intensity in her vocals that totally makes the song great.
Next up was a new song so new that not only was this the first public performance of it, and not only had the band never even heard it before, but it didn't even have a title yet. Lelia took audience suggestions for a title, it had something to do with "I'm free but I'm not broken, lost you but finally found me".
"Happy People" cooked with another nice groove that was a little more relaxed than on the record, also featuring a great solo from Jef.
Next up was a truly awesome sounding new song, called "Reasons", said she co-wrote it with someone whose name sounded like Rob Fusana. "Can't Explain" and "Somebody Else" both sounded great. Here's a YouTube clip Lelia posted of "Somebody Else" performed live at Milkboy Coffee, about a month earlier on 12/28/06.
"He Makes Me Smile" got the smooth and slow groove treatment with another nice Jef solo. "Comin' Around" which will be one of the new songs on Rise, rocks out on the record more so than any previous tune, was given a really nice restrained intensity in the live rendition. "That Boy" also got the smooth yet intense treatment, this band really has their thing together.
"Louisiana" was written post-Katrina by Lelia as a tribute to her home state, Jef added some very tasty guitar. Someone from the audience requested "Broke Down and Blue" from Lelia's first EP and although the band sat out having never played this oldie before, Lelia made a valiant attempt to play it despite not knowing all the words.
"Another Lover" is another excellent new tune. Lelia then did two of the cover songs she often does; Tracy Chapman's "Give Me One Reason" and her version of "Stormy Monday" which is always a highlight, never more than now with this band's totally tight interplay and yet another gorgeous Jef guitar solo. Lelia closed her set with "I'll Be" and sent the crowd home smiling.
Lelia Broussard's website.
Lelia Broussard's myspace.
Jef Lee Johnson's myspace.