Sunday, February 26, 2012

Redd Velvet Unlocking The Key To “Womanhood 101”

By Suzanne Swanson  
Men are always shaking their heads in puzzlement saying they don’t understand women. Well, if they listened to what Miss Redd Velvet is singing in her self-penned material on ‘Womanhood 101’ they might have a better understanding of how women think. Kudos to Redd for producing this album herself as it is filled with various highlights both musically as well as sharing ‘life-lessons’. The wisdom taught to her by her mother is echoed on the liner notes, “…a woman should never lower her standards to raise her average.”

Photo by Suzanne Swanson
This Southern lady, born and raised, shares her wisdom along with a whole lot of truth, some poignant, some bittersweet, but always honest. Her voice slides over you easily as she conveys, with a satisfying opening groove, on “The Right Number”. This is a tale about being “the other woman”. On “Wouldn’t You Like to Know”, Redd swings into a statement regarding control and a push-me, pull-me relationship. For emphasis, it includes nice background vocals.

A slow ballad supported with a smooth horn section, and background vocals, “Lying” gives us a portrait most woman can relate to at some point in their lives. Sometimes a woman has to be forward in a relationship and let the man of her dreams know that she would rather he stay the night because she just cannot let him walk out that door. “Who You Calling Baby”, delivers guitar fills that add a mellow but firm touch to this reprimand. She is calling her man out about all his bad behaviour. We’ve heard a number of he’s-done-me-wrong songs but here Redd is standing up for herself with authority, and a hand-on-her-hip finger-shaking in his face.

Photo by Suzanne Swanson
Now we quickly move to a slid trombone intro followed by repeating horn licks in “Walkie Talkie Man”. This is my favorite cut. It’s an upbeat declaration that she knows what she wants in a man and calling all comers to show they are worthy of her attention. We have a real woman here who knows exactly what she wants and is honest enough to say no ‘players’ allowed.

“Searching” is penned by Earl Randle. With sparing guitar, it is a quick-paced declaration that states the singer is on a quest.

On “When You’re Loving Me”, a tender love song oozing the eternal charm and depth of a Hammond B-3, this sensual song declares with every note the profound feelings Redd shares without embarrassment. We need candles and satin sheets here. “When you are loving me… I become the woman that I was meant to be”.

With “Never Before’, we have a slow bluesy ballad that is a declaration that Redd is looking for love “but doesn’t want to hurt herself”. The measured snare and guitar chording support in a comfortable subtle manner just adding enough textures so as not to distract from the voice that needs to be heard. “No Thank You” is a blues shuffle again with B-3 and guitar playing off each other while Redd affirms in no uncertain terms, ‘Thanks, but no thanks!” The B-3 fading out feels just right in every way.

“How Long” places us back in church which we understand perfectly here. I can picture everyone getting on their feet declaring this message as a prayer to the Lord. How long will it be before Good triumphs over the snares of the devil? Redd grew up in the church while having her grandparents, the Rev. and Mrs. S.C. Tucker, make sure she had piano lessons. It has been an important part in expressing herself which means we reap the rewards on this release.

©copyright 2012 Suzanne Swanson 


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