We can thank Detroit for giving us Carol Lockridge, and now we can thank Carol Lockridge for giving us You Make Me Blue.
This debut, which hit the shelves in July, is the kind of album that could only come from a blues veteran. Its 12 tracks run the gamut from Southern spiritual to sexy R&B with a heaping helping of bluesy “you done me wrong” numbers in between. Lockridge, herself an expert keyboard player, is not without help on this album. She’s surrounded herself with some of the best local instrumentalists in the biz, including bassist Lee Lewis, drummer Kenny Garr, trumpeter Tom “Socrates” Brown, saxophonist T-Bone/T-Bizzy and guitar players Layonne Bates and Phil Potts.
The result is a rich and varied sound that serves as the perfect complement to Lockridge’s sultry, low-down and bad vocals. Case in point, track one. “Off the Chain” is one of the most upbeat songs I’ve ever heard about living with a broken heart. The tune traffics in the universal – “You were a mistake in my life” – and tweaks it into an empowerment anthem. It made me want to exhale. Speaking of, “You Are My Miracle” is a lovely Supremes-sounding number in which “Socrates” Brown’s trumpet plays a wise role. So do backup vocals of Tiesha Smith. Together, she and Lockridge could be a Sunday choir.
You Make Me Blue takes a beautiful and poignant turn with “Seven Years Old,” a stripped-down, soulful number about a mother who’s lost her only child. Lockridge proves here that not only can she sing like nobody’s business and tickle the ivories until they laugh out loud, but she also knows her way around a six-string. This lovely song is a heartbreaking, chill-inducing highlight.
It’s no wonder, then, that the next song, “Jesus Is,” failed to register much with me. The song is a smartly arranged R&B spiritual, but it fades into the background a bit, sandwiched as it is between “Seven Years Old” and the sexy title track. “You Make Me Blue” had me wondering what kind of man would dare to leave a woman like Lockridge at home on a Friday night. Listen to that voice. Hear that pain? That beauty? Shame on you. The theme of menfolk who let their ladies down continues with “Walking a Thin Line,” a track that showcases the considerable talents of T-Bone/T-Bizzy as well as backup vocalist Maurice Turner. And then there’s “Single.” Talk about your empowerment anthem. It makes Beyonce’s “All the Single Ladies” sound like a lullaby. Lockridge declares, “I’m single and I’m loving it.” Amen.
The album comes to a close with the sweet “I Love You 4 One Special Reason,” the less sweet and more sizzling “Sweet Talk” and two versions of “You’re So Special to Me,” one with accompaniment and one a cappella. This song is nothing short of stunning. With its beautiful harmonies, simple yet compelling lyrics and winning arrangements, it’s why Lockridge has made a name for herself, not only in Fort Wayne but nationally as a formidable and cherished blues woman.
You Make Me Blue might have dropped this summer, but it’s the perfect album for playing on a lonesome autumn night or a slow, winter Sunday. The sad songs will make you smile. The sexy ones will drive you to dance. All of them will have you hitting repeat.
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March 27 • The Clyde