Romi Mayes, Lucky Tonight
It’s a risky move, for a collection of brand new songs, but one that fits with Romi (pronounced “RAW-me) Mayes’ on-stage persona.
With her deep growls and assertive, sometimes aggressive lyrics, Mayes creates and delivers the character of a hard-lived woman.
Likewise the songs on Lucky Tonight: first-person vignettes of life on the wrong side of the heart, that sometimes tell just part of the story. Throughout, there’s a sense of tension between big personalities and small-time dramas.
The album’s liner notes includes a few lines on each song, with an explanation of its origin or inspiration: the intro to “After the Show,” for example, is a quote about loneliness from Albert Einstein.
Musically the album is a departure from previous full-band studio albums. Mayes partners on stage with Jay Nowicki of Winnipeg blues band The Perpetrators to form an electric guitar duo. The two-guitar combo as a backdrop adds an edge that starts to dull by the album’s midpoint.
Because the guitars feature so heavily throughout, other players’ contributions are keenly felt, such as Damon Mitchell’s alternating harmonica and supporting vocals on “Don’t Mess With Me.”
For the most part, the songs are framed in a fairly standard rock-blues style. The odd departure stands out as some of the better material on the album. “Heavy Heart” has the vibe of a sweetly broken-hearted early country tune, while the album’s closer, “I Will” is a simple piano ballad with Mayes appearing solo for the only time on the album.
It’s difficult for anyone to pin point what it is that makes a great live show. The right venue, a crowd of fans, positive thinking? It’s got to be more than just luck.
There’s no question that Romi Mayes got lucky making this record on a mid-winter’s night in Winnipeg: the fans are in full voice, responding strongly to her songs despite hearing them for the first time. That says a lot about the performance she gave on stage.
Lucky Tonight is a true live album with all the warmth and echo that involves – but one that leaves the listener yearning for the part of a live show that never makes it to the recording.