SOUTHERN SOUL AMERICANA GOSPEL & BLUES
The confluence of influences that comprise the namesake river of Lisa Mills’ native Mississippi are indeed “mighty”. However, to lump her interpretation of those blues, country, gospel and soul influences under the catch-all “roots music” moniker is both right…and entirely wrong.
Her defiance of description is what makes Lisa Mills a singular talent. She takes the best of each these genres, whether self-penned or carefully chosen covers that speak to her in some way, and utterly transforms them. By taking all those ingredients and adding the occasional dollop of jazz inflection, Mills serves up her own savoury-sweet mix that goes beyond the expected. The result is at least equal to, often surpassing the historic best that each of those genres have to offer. She is one of those rare artists that, once you’ve heard her, cannot possibly be mistaken for anyone else.
Having completed a monumental, and universally acclaimed tour of the UK and Europe in 2016 – and as the acknowledged star of every festival and venue at which she performed – Lisa Mills is back in 2017 to give her burgeoning audiences even more of what they simply could not get enough of last year.
Mills will showcase her latest, now officially released, labour of love – and it is genuinely that – Mama’s Juke Book, a collection of classic songs collated by Mills’ best friend and biggest fan, her late mother, found in a tattered notebook years after her passing. Mills’ interpretation of these songs, many of them familiar, others destined to become so, are taken to heights that only Mills is seemingly able to reach.
Mills will also include selections from her aptly named Tempered in Fire album, and the deeply personal and introspective I’m Changing. As a bonus for 2017, the ever-evolving Mills will give first airings to some new, as yet unrecorded work destined for her next project.
And that’s one of the many beauties of her live performances. How a woman, flying solo accompanied only by her faithful archtop guitar “Evangeline” and a seldom-referenced set list can hold an audience, breathless, in her hand with barely a whisper one second, and the next erupt into a soaring crescendo that creates the illusion of a full band that only she seems able to know the limits to, is at once thrilling and mystifying. As is often overheard at her concerts, “How on earth does she do that?!”
Lisa Mills takes her audiences on a musical, and often humorous, emotional journey with charm and panache that is melodic, raw, unfettered and, most important, searingly honest. She leaves it all on the stage…and in your heart. Like the best of any performing artist of note, she draws from deeply personal aspects of her life and makes them a memorable part of yours. In short, once heard, she’s impossible to forget.
Mills now resides in Mobile, Alabama (thank you Hurricane Katrina) and draws from – but is never limited to – those influences, too. (Just listen to the seminal “Way Down South”, which alone conveys a powerful, almost overwhelming sense of time and place.)
True to the river that bears the name, Lisa Mills remains a Mighty Mississippi native with a strength of spirit that resonates through her exceptional guitar mastery and her mighty, breathtaking voice.
Lisa Mills, is mighty good.
“Lisa Mills is one of Ten Killer Songwriters You Need To Hear Right Now. …The many styles of southern music (blues, gospel and R&B) come through in Mills’ powerful delivery. Her interpretation of Hendrix’s “Little Wing” is one of the best I’ve heard.”Jim Hynes
Maverick Festival July 2015
Better Than This
Live for the Raven & Blues Radio Show (www.ravenblues.co.uk) 2014
“…Mills possesses a dynamic vocal range, capable of blowing the doors off in one breath and then captivating the audience in barely a whisper the next as she delivers what only can be described as blue-eyed soul, a perfect mix of Muscle Shoals and Memphis atop a Nashville feel”
––Marty Gunther, Blues Blast Magazine (Feb 18, 2015)
“…She sings like she means it.”
––George W. Harris, Jazz Weekly, (Jan 19, 2015)
“When Mills opens her mouth to sing––well, get ready to be moved.”
––Icon Fetch, Tony Peters, (Jan 13, 2015)
“The Mississippi-born; Mobile, Alabama-based Lisa Mills beautifully meshes country, gospel, blues, soul and more together…without doubt one of the finest female singers and performers around!”
––Blues in the Northwest, Grahame Rhodes, (Jan 03, 2015)
“Lisa Mills…will appeal to blues, soul and Americana lovers of all persuasions.”
––Mick Rainsford, Blues in Britain (Jan 01, 2015)
“Lisa can be called a blues singer, a gospel singer, a torch singer or an R&B singer–to which I might also add an Americana singer–and those are all correct. Most important, (I’m Changing) shows beyond doubt that she is an always bluesy, always a wonderful singer.
––Blues Matters, Victor Ian Leyland, Issue 82 (Jan 01, 2015)
“Lisa Mills- one of the finest blues singers you’ve probably not heard but will demand more of after this debut of her new disc.”
––Mike Reisz, Blues All Over The Place, WDPS-FM, Dayton, OH, (Dec 03, 2014)
“This Alabama-by-way-of-Mississippi songstress has been called a female Otis Redding….”
––Goldmine Magazine, Mike Greenblatt, (Dec 01, 2014)
“She has one of the most compelling voices that I’ve heard in a while.”
— Graham Clarke, Blues Bytes, (Dec 2014)
“The Mississippi-born soul-shouter delivers pure joy and raw emotion. This is something else, something real.”
––Rhetta Akamatsu, Examiner.com (Nov 24, 2015)
“I catch echoes of Sandy Denny, Led Zep’s Gallows Pole and Misty Mountain Hop, and other influences embedded in an atmosphere that seems as would accompany Donovan, Joni, and Janis back in the day.”
––Mark Tucker, FAME (Nov 14, 2015)
“Here, right at the end of the season, another storm is brewing down in the Gulf. No, it’s not a meteorological one. This one is a musical ‘perfect storm,’ and it has its sights set on you. Lisa Mills has delivered a hurricane strength new album entitled I’m Changing. Chances are you’ll be changing too, after listening to her extraordinary voice.”
–– Examiner.com (Nov 06, 2015)
“Some blues belters sacrifice nuance for gusto, but that’s not the case with Mills, who can grab the listener’s attention with a robust shout or a subtle, gently delivered phrase. belters sacrifice nuance for gusto, but that’s not the case with Mills, who can grab the listener’s attention with a robust shout or a subtle, gently delivered phrase.”
Bobby Reed, Downbeat (Nov 05, 2014)
“A singer and songwriter of the first rank, uncompromising in the vision and concept of her art.”
–– David McGee, Deep Roots Magazine,(Nov 04, 2014)
*** ½ “When Mills sings, she means it. There is an authenticity to her music that few artists can conjure up.”
––David Bowling, Cashbox Music Reviews, (Nov 02, 2014)
****1/2 “Lisa Mills is a true discovery. Take a look at her website and purchase this masterpiece. You will not be disappointed.”
–– Philip Verhaege, Keys and Chords, Belgium, (Nov 01, 2014)
“If you got it, sing with everything you got, right? And Lisa Mills definitely has ‘it.’”
–– Greg Victor, Parc Bench (Oct 28, 2014)
“Lisa Mills is one of the greatest blues singers of our time…If you love Bonnie Raitt, Janiva Magness or Grace Potter, Lisa Mills is right there at the table with them. Wonderful stuff.”
–Frank Matheis, contributing writer to Living Blues and publisher of thecountryblues.com (Oct 27, 2014)
“(I’m Changing)…beautifully crafted and faultlessly delivered. … a musician at the pinnacle of her creative power.”
– Daniel Pavlica, The Rocktologist (Oct 27, 2014)
“Lisa Mills is a natural soul burner.” ****
––Duane Vehr, Roots Music Report (Oct 26, 2014)
“Not just another girl with a guitar, this is music made by a woman who knows her strengths and weaknesses, and can sing about them with more authority than a truckload of doe-eyed waifs emoting about first lovers.”
–- The Flame Still Burns.com (Oct 26, 2014)
“This one would have my vote for “Female Vocalist of the Year,” hands down.”
––Bill Wilson, Reflections in Blue, (Oct 20, 2014)
“While the industry continues to herald the neo-soul movement, the album is a reminder that Mills was doing it long before Alabama Shakes or St. Paul & the Broken Bones.”
––Stephen Centanni, Lagniappe, (Oct 16, 2014)
“…to miss Mills is to miss a lot. Killer stuff throughout from one of the real deals.”Chris Spector, Midwest Record (Chicago, IL) (Oct 06, 2014)
“With its combination of gospel and blues and expert playing this disc is forceful, almost frighteningly so. It’s like listening to a mesmerizing story that you feel like you know but have never heard before, foreign and familiar at the same time. I’m Changing is a well full of cool soul-refreshing water, one that I plan to draw from deeply and often- simply gorgeous.”
–– John “The Rock Doctor” Kereiff, Gonzo Online
“Mississippi-born, Alabama-based singer/songwriter Lisa Mills is the real thing and no mistake, but don’t just take our word for it––stars no less stellar than Robert Plant and Dr. John have sung her praises and served her kudos, and with good reason. Her long-awaited second album,Tempered in Fire, reveals a voice of unusual passion and emotional erudition, and a level of soulful sophistication that recalls Stax’s legendary 60s hot streak with the impact of its sweltering bluesy funk. “
––Classic Rock Magazine (UK) 2013
“One of my favourite discoveries of recent years, it’s always a joy to watch the faces of audience members who haven’t seen Lisa Mills before. What a voice, and enhanced by superb microphone technique. If you like your Americana with some southern soul and blues, and a big, big voice, then this is the singer for you.”
–- Andrew Heaps, Maverick Magazine (UK) (Aug 17, 2013)
“Rarely do you get a vocalist who can belt out the blues with such power, then switch straight to a ballad…so utterly natural. She could easily be talked about in the same league as Aretha Franklin…”
––- Dave Woodhall, Birmingham Post (UK) (Feb 23, 2012)
“A singer of tremendous range and passion…”
Adam Bates, Blues Matters (Jan 01, 2012)
“One British critic described Lisa Mills’ Southern soul voice as a “full-throated Otis Redding.” And as showcased here, the Mobile, Alabama-based blues singer by way of Mississippi can certainly work a song like the iconic Stax/Volt legend.. ”
–- Eric Feber, The Virginian Pilot (Jan 04, 2012)
Lisa Mills is blessed. Blessed, that is, with a vocal abilities that seem to encompass and embody every cliché ever applied to a gruff, gargle-with-broken-glass yet velvety-smooth voice. It’s a remarkable instrument indeed, and she employs it magnificently on Tempered In Fire, her natural melisma and southern drawl at times reminiscent of Lucinda Williams, while elsewhere she exudes the fiery passion and gritty intensity of the late, great Otis Redding.
–John Taylor, BLINDED BY SOUND (December 30, 2011)
It is no secret to anyone who knows me that I love female blues singers. I even wrote a book about them! So, discovering Lisa Mills’ Tempered in Fire was like discovering buried treasure for me. Mills has a real blues voice. She has been described as “a full-throated female Otis Redding,” and I can see that. To me, she has the passion and emotion of Etta James or Bonnie Raitt, with a slightly ragged voice perfect for the blues. At times, her voice reminds me of Bonnie Tyler or Sheryl Crow.
– Rhetta Akamatsu, BC PREMIUM (December 14, 2011)
“All in all, “Tempered in Fire” is the best surprise disc I have uncovered in many years. It is a stellar performance by a singer I certainly hope to hear a lot more of, and backed by a lean and mean band who knows how far to push and when to lay back. This one will be playing in my car for a long, long time.”
– Mike Hyland, SONOMA VALLEY SUN (Nov 17, 2011)
While her voice is full of power and the band is slick as greased lightening, most of the tempos are slow to middling, which means this set is for sitting back and absorbing a voice you won’t believe you haven’t heard before, and a band you hope you’ll hear again.”
– By Wesley Britton, BLOGCRITICS.ORG, Seattle PI (Post Intelligencer online) (Nov 14, 2011)
“Tempered in Fire, is one of the best CDs to land on my desk in a while, a set of songs reared in gospel, saturated in the blues and sprinkled with rock.”
– Jim Clark, Lee County Courier-Tupelo, Mississippi (Dec 01, 2011)
” I pulled a heart attack while listening to this disc, it would’ve required the skills of a half-dozen surgeons to get the grin of pleasure off my face… I suggest you grab this smokin’ disc.
– Mark S Tucker, FAME review for Folk Music Exchange (Nov 21, 2011)
“LISA MILLS/Tempered in Fire: This album answers the question of what Bonnie Raitt would have sounded like if she hadn’t gone into a pop vein after her third album…Everything you ever loved about Muscle Shoals and blue eyed soul is here on proud display. A great time throughout. “
– Chris Spector, MIDWEST RECORD – CHICAGO, IL (Nov 13, 2011)
“With her unique vocal ability to make one feel the good times and bad times in every song, Lisa Mills may elicit comparisons to Lucinda Williams or Delbert. With “Tempered In Fire,” she has the chops to achieve breakout success! “
– Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society (Nov 14, 2011)
“A frequent visitor to our shores for about the last decade, Lisa Mills, the Southern belle from Mobile, Alabama, with a quite stunning voice, comes over on “Tempered In Fire”‘ like a full-throated female Otis Redding, with some Muscle Shoals soul and Nashville country touches for good measure, in the company of a great band, including her long-time associate Ian Jennings, who plays bass and co-produced the album; and the supremely talented Andy Fairweather Low on guitar.”
Graham Rhodes, Blues in the Northwest (2010)
“Mill’s last full studio album, 2005’s “I’m Changing” arguably was the best local album released that year. “Tempered in Fire” proves that Mills was just clearing her throat. “
– Lawrence F. Specker, The Press-Register (Mar 25, 2010)
“It may sound exaggerated but this is a voice that bears comparison with any blues and soul singer from any era…Not only can Lisa sing but she’s a born entertainer…There was a reference to one song being written in Kidderminster, which made me wonder what would happen of one resident of that town (or thereabouts) did the same with this lady as he did with Allison Kraus? Robert Plant and Lisa Mills would certainly be a collaboration to savour.”
– Dave Woodhall, “Birmingham Post” (Jul 21, 2011)
“These dynamic and inspiring performances help prove that Lisa Mills is the real deal; no studio tricks needed, no airbrushing required.”
Wade Wellborn, Currents Magazine.
“Nothing sounds borrowed. I haven’t heard an album this year by an artist who asserted his or her individuality more fearlessly.”
– Lawrence F. Specker, The Press-Register
“Lisa’s guitar playing is reassuringly functional, sometimes, surprisingly lyrical, always true to its roots in Southern Soul, blues and gospel. It’s the voice you come to hear, though — moving from a whisper of vulnerability to a harshly defiant rasp, coupled to masterful on-off-mike technique, and with a scary range… add to that real writing skills, and Lisa’s a force to be reckoned with.”
-Celf Cambria Arts