Billy Lavender and band get high marks for some songs but not the album. Like a blues set list that drags into the evening, some cuts are the ones that give you a chance to go order another beer. Unfortunately, after Memphis Livin starts with the classic feel of “Singin the Blues,” you can skip the table service and sidle up to the bar yourself on track 2 as Reba Russell takes lead vocals. She turns in a number of ballads here, and while she has a fine voice, has been a backup singer for B.B. King, U2, and others, her voice—and song choice—doesn’t make her unique enough to warrant the spot that high up in the track list.
It’s disappointing, because songs like “Just Chillin” and “Shake It” really hit a great groove. “Bad Boy” features Lavender’s blazing guitar solo that fades out the track all too soon. Let’s hope that future releases will live more in these kind of moments, so that Lavender, along with bandmates (and songwriters) Tony Adams and Brad Webb, can really shine.