Music Review: Missy Andersen – Missy Andersen
BluesArtStudio
By Brian Harman
July 2009

Unknowingly, Missy took her first steps towards her chosen career at the age of six when her mother entered her for a singing contest. In an effort to increase her chances, she was enrolled into a course of singing lessons. Unfortunately, the contest was cancelled and so were her lessons. Even so, at that tender age Missy was not deterred, for she continued to sing whenever she had the opportunity. Missy was born in Detroit, but her family moved to Queens, New York when she was quite young and so spent her childhood in the musical melt- ing pot that was New York. Her parents’ choice in music in and around the home added to the many musical influences that abounded in that city by including in their record collec- tion such music as soul, blues R&B, jazz and gospel.

The type of numbers that attracted Missy’s attention was not always the most obviously catchy or chart related, or even necessarily easy to sing. Each number had to have an underlying emotional resonance or deep felt meaning in the lyrics. Such artists that intrigued and interested her ranged from the likes of Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin, The Staple Singers, and James Brown through to Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughan, and Billie Holiday, which ultimately led her on to O. V. Wright, James Carr, Ann Peebles, and Irma Thomas.

This wide and varied combination of types and styles would ultimately shape the complex and fascinating vocal and musical style that Missy would later present on her debut album. Although her first foray into the business was in her teens as a rapper and having a single entitled “Be For Real” released under the name of Denyce “Flip” Isaac. The single made a few waves, but most importantly, it led to her gaining a spot as a backing singer for Cissy Houston, which then led to her becoming a full time singer, providing lead vocals for a good number of local bands.

In the nineties Missy moved to San Diego and around this time she was introduced to local blues man Earl Thomas. Also she became aware of the Juke Joint Jezebelles, a vocal group that specialised in gospel, blues and soul. She was soon invited to become one of the original members of this quartet. After having successfully provided backing vocals with The Juke Joint Jezebelles for Earl Thomas at many concerts and festivals across America and Europe over a number of years, Missy decided to strike out and for a while fronted the San Diego band Tell Mama; but ultimately she has begun a solo career with this album and my what a blast furnace of sound and texture it is; subtly combining emotionally charged blues with a deeply mined vein of Southern soul that is buoyant with a succulent horn section backed by an insistent, yet subdued, rhythm section which has an interweaving, snaking and biting Hammond organ that surfaces only to ease your soul.. Heine’s amazingly deft and understated guitar work teases and pleases throughout.

Memories of Atlantic, Stax, Hi, and possibly Goldwax abound, but they are only memories, for this is music that is only inspired by that which was and builds upon those foundations and takes the music to another level. Missy does not dwell in the past recreating perfect copies of the old; she is forming new types and styles even if they are very familiar.

There are stunning versions of O.V. Wright’s “Ace of Spades,” Anne Peebles’ “I Can’t Stand the Rain,” and Don Nix’s “Same Old Blues” amongst the riveting eight numbers found on this album. I must mention one delightful slow-burning, toe-tapper which is the marvel- lous “Stand up and Dance” – a treat for the ears.

Missy’s vocals can be described as a combination of Mavis Staples, Irma Thomas, and Anne Peebles, with a hint of Etta James. Missy is backed by her husband Heine Andersen, gui- tars; Asmus Jensen, drums; Søren Bøjgaard, bass; and Jeppe Juul, Hammond organ. The exemplary horn section is provided by Robbie Smith, trumpet; Bob Mathes, saxophones; Paul Cougill, Wurlitzer; and Nathan James, Dobro slide.

This is a richly sweet, but short album, but no less wonderful for that. Excellent!

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