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Review: Heart on the Line, Vanessa Collier

Heart on the Line

Vanessa Collier

Phenix Fire

By Tory Gates

Listening to Vanessa Collier’s latest CD, Heart on the Line is hearing the growth of an artist. From one recording to the next, a fan might take note of changes or improvement, but others look more closely, to see if the old ground is being recovered, or if the is being broken.

From my viewing Collier at events since 2016, you find an artist who is supremely confident in their musical skill and is unafraid to try something different.

My interview with Collier before her performance at the 2019 Reading Blue Fest told me enough: Collier is in charge but does that without arrogance or a need to front. Opening with “Superbad” gives you all you need to know: funk, soul, and blues dominate Heart on the Line, and from track to track Collier gives respect to the music she grew up with and puts a new spin on “You Can Leave Your Hat On.” Vocally, Collier takes it down with a sensitive cover of “I Don’t Want Anything to Change.”

The songwriting of Collier grabs my attention. The Delta blues of “Bloodhound,” the balladry in “If Only” and a playful “Freshly Squozen” show the aforementioned confidence in her craft.

A solid outing is Heart on the Line, and Vanessa Collier can add this to her string of what seem to be effortless records and two straight Horn Player of the Year” Blues Music Awards. Collier’s stock has no signs of going anywhere but the upward direction.

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