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Friday, October 18, 2013

Jitterbug Vipers - Phoebe's Dream

Jitterbug Vipers - Phoebe's Dream
2013, Jitterbug Vipers

Jitterbug Vipers are an anomaly in the Austin, Texas music scene, reliving the marijuana culture that infused American jazz music in the 1920s and 1930s.  Jitterbug Vipers celebrate both the music and the muse on their debut album, Phoebe’s Dream.  Let by the impressive pipes of Sarah Sharp and the exquisite guitar work of Slim Richey, Jitterbug Vipers take listeners on a whirling ride you won’t soon forget!

Jitterbug Vipers kick off with the title track, a jazz-noir story song about a woman trying to make her own path to heaven. Vocalist Sarah Sharp sounds like a utopian blend of Katherine Walton (Squirrel Nut Zippers) and Brianna Corrigan (late of The Beautiful South).  The dark undertones continue to hold away on "A Viper Just The Same", an ethereal and eloquent piece of jazz that mesmerizes.  Jitterbug Vipers show off their sense of humor on "Stuff It". Full of innuendo and sultry vocals, the song also highlights the sublime instrumental work of Texas' most dangerous guitar player, Slim Richey. "Undecided" is a jaunty little number that ruminates on an answer that never arrives. Part invitation and part interrogation, the song displays Sarah Sharp at her casual best. 

"When You're High" is an old school love song that's sung in dulcet tones. This sort of intimate vocal style has fallen out of fashion, perhaps, but reflects a time when melody, lyrics and the ability to sell a song were all that a vocalist had. "Dangerous" celebrates the talents of guitarist Richey with tongue-in-cheek humor and some fantastic guitar work. The Jitterbug Vipers let down their collective hair with "That Was Just The Sauce Talkin'", a post-amorous letdown that's artfully crafted and ultimately tuneful. This is an amusing tune perhaps unless you're the one it's directed at. "Billie's Blues" gives Sarah Sharp a virtual spotlight to show what she's made of, and she does not disappoint. 

"Viper Moon" is a duet between Sharp and Ricky's dulcet guitar that is not be missed. Each fills the space where the other is not, occasionally overlapping in a sort of coital muse.  Sharp purrs and preens her way through "Trouble" in a kittenish fashion that puts Ann Margaret to shame, and the rest of the Jitterbug Vipers match her measure for measure with a deliciously understated style. Slim Richey goes to town on "Django's Birthday", giving a virtuoso performance. The only thing missing here is a healthy dose of gypsy violin to balance it out. 

Jitterbug Vipers rock it old school on Phoebe’s Dream.  I don’t know if I would call Slim Richey dangerous, but he is certainly one of the finest axe men I have heard in some time.  His slithery electric groove and Sarah Sharp’s hypnotic and sultry voice are the perfect pairing.  The rest of the band, Francie Meaux Jeaux (bass) and Masumi Jones (drums) are killer in instinct and execution.  Phoebe’s Dream might be one of the most fun listening experiences you encounter in 2013.  Jitterbug Vipers aren’t original, per se, but these hep cats are in the real.  Phoebe’s Dream is a Wildy’s World Certified Desert Island Disc.

Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)

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