Dana’s Most Soulful Blues Focused Effort Yet and May Just Be Her Best Work to Date
– The New York Times
“Fuch’s entree is a bold and beautiful thing, and her talent is immense.”
– Billboard Magazine
“Dana Fuchs and her band turn out rocking, blues-infused originals that come to life in Dana’s burnished vocals.”
– The New Yorker
“A voice that is sultry and astonishingly boundless.”
– The Village Voice
“A talent to reckon with… The passion and expanded musical palette displayed in “Love Lives On” indicate that Dana is one of the most exciting acts on today’s blues scene.”
– No Depression
It takes a brave artist to rip it up and start again. Anyone who has followed the life and times of Dana Fuchs will know this fearless New Yorker has always broken the boundaries in pursuit of art and truth. Now, she blazes her own trail with Love Lives On: the hotly anticipated fourth album on which she bursts defiant from her darkest days with a sound inspired by the siren-call of American soul. “It’s a new beginning for me in every way,” Dana explains. “I’m looking forward to starting chapter two…”
Of course, chapter one was quite a ride. Raised in Florida, Dana fell hard for music in her formative years, with influences pinballing from Ray Charles and Hank Williams to the hard-rock played by her siblings and the stomp-and-holler gospel of her local Baptist church. Aged 19, she moved to New York City to ignite Manhattan’s blues-rock circuit, fusing her burnt-honey vocal with the licks of acclaimed session guitarist Jon Diamond, in a songwriting partnership that flourishes to this day. Dana even found time to star in the hit Broadway musical Love, Janis, and make her triumphal entrance on the silver screen as Sexy Sadie in the 2007 film Across the Universe, all while her band’s acclaimed studio catalogue grew in stature from 2003’s Lonely For A Lifetime, through 2011’s Love To Beg, to 2013’s “blisteringly good” Bliss Avenue.
Fast-forward to 2018, and Love Lives On is the best kind of evolution. Rest assured, you’ll find all the factors that have helped Dana conquer the modern music scene since her breakout, with 13 new tracks that offer heart-on-sleeve songwriting, stellar musicianship and the ragged vocal that Classic Rock described as “juke-joint dirty and illicit, evoking Joplin, Jagger and a cigarette butt bobbing in a glass of bourbon”.
But there’s a new musical freedom here, borne of Dana finishing her contract with Ruf Records, and realising she had creative autonomy and a blank canvass. “I was at an interesting crossroads,” she remembers. “When my contract was up, I felt relief that I held the reins for my next move. I decided to start my own label called Get Along Records, and to get out of New York and go to the root of the music that inspired me to follow my passion: The Southern soul of Stax/Volt, Hi Records and Sun Studios. From Otis Redding to Al Green to Johnny Cash. All huge influences.”
For better and worse, the record was also shaped by emotional extremes, as Dana weathered the loss of three beloved family members, before the storm clouds parted with the birth of her son. “Initially, it felt the worst timing ever to have a baby,” she reflects, “but I couldn’t have been more wrong. The shift from grief to joy was the most powerful and empowering experience I’ve ever lived. The opportunity arose to take all of the pain from the family loss, and the miraculous love of a new baby, and put it in a body of music. This album is all about hope and perseverance.”
Raw but inspired, Dana hit the album sessions in Memphis with purpose and momentum. Writing mostly with Jon, the singer found an immediate telepathy with producer Kevin Houston (North Mississippi Allstars, The Bo-Keys, Ian Siegal) and a crack-squad studio band that took in original Hi Records organist Charles Hodges, Stax titan Steve Potts on drums, keys ace Glenn Patscha and first-call bassist Jack Daley. “It was so fast and easy,” Dana reflects, “like I’ve never experienced before. Unbelievable mutual respect and admiration between everyone. Not one ego, ever.”
On Love Lives On, the songs are the stars. The album opens in commanding fashion with Backstreet Baby, driven by high-velocity guitars, spring-heeled horns and a savagely beautiful vocal telling of a woman with “nothing to lose”. Cuts don’t come much funkier than Ain’t Nobody’s Fault But Mine, while Callin’ Angels fuses upbeat gospel with a poignant lyric. “It has a verse for each family member,” explains Dana. “It’s become a song of conjuring our loved ones in our hearts at every show.”
Elsewhere, the bittersweet Sittin’ On offers an airtight groove, Sad Solutionsurges forward with an effervescent strut, while the vulnerable and reflective title track – written by Dana as she watched her mother slip away in hospital – examines the circle of life. “It’s about the experience of losing a mother and then becoming one. Letting go of the first love of my life. Lying next to her as she passed, wishing I had asked her so many things. Wishing I had more time.”
On an album that runs the emotional gamut, you’ll find the smoky small-hours Sedative, the defiant Ready To Rise, the country-pickin’ redemption of Fight My Way, the trilling instrumentation of Battle Lines – plus a reboot of Ring Of Fire that transforms Johnny Cash’s original into sunkissed country-gospel. Dana can move your feet with the soul-blues bag of Same Sunlight, or floor you with Faithful Sinner: an emotive standout built on organ and a confessional lyric. “It’s about my father,” she explains. “He was a very tortured soul who had one of the most brutal lives of anyone I’ve ever known. With all that pain he was most certainly a flawed parent. Yet he tried so hard to do what was right.”
Out of darkness comes light. And out of that fascinating early career emerges a reborn Dana Fuchs, armed with the album of her life. New label. New city. New sound. And new horizons for an artist who has so far only hinted at her dizzying potential. “I sure hope those who’ve been with me all along will feel as passionately as I do about Love Lives On,” she concludes. “And that those who have yet to hear me will now come on board. This album is almost like a second child to me. It’s who I am at this moment in time, captured on tape…”
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