Review: Songwriting shines on Ramminger’s latest releaseBy MIKE COTE
New Hampshire Union Leader March 15. 2017 12:41PM
On his third CD, saxophonist and singer-songwriter Scott Ramminger traveled to New Orleans to record a fresh batch of original songs with a Crescent City rhythm section and several high-profile guests. It’s a rollicking good time from the Washington, D.C.-based artist, who should gain greater demand on the touring circuit with this release. (He performs on the road with the Crawstickers, also the name of his debut album.)
While the performances are top-notch throughout, the true strength lies in the songwriting on these 14 tunes. Like Al Basile, the only other saxophone-playing singer-songwriter that comes to mind, Ramminger writes with heart and a healthy sense of humor.
The album kicks off in style with “Living Too Fast,” a soulful duet with Subdudes singer Tommy Malone. It features some great piano work by keyboardist David Torkanowsky, who with the horn section gives the song that New Orleans second rhythm. The core band on most tracks is composed of bass player George Porter Jr., guitarist Shane Theriot and drummer Doug Belote.
On “Someone New To Disappoint,” which wins big points for its song title alone, Ramminger has written an instant classic, a funny upbeat song that rings all too true. Ramminger also gives himself some room for a nice sax solo. Bekka Bramlett helps him out on the vocals.
On the title track, another song that nails that New Orleans feel and provides the album’s overall theme, Ramminger offers the great chorus: “Your brain thinks it’s in charge of you/But once in awhile that should not be true/You got to shake things up/ Do what your heart says to.” Blues singer Francine Reed, known for her work with Lyle Lovett and His Large Band, shares the vocal duties.
“Hoping That The Sun Won’t Shine,” another duet with Bramlett, is a bluesy ballad that features both baritone and tenor solos from Ramminger. “Get Back Up,” one of four songs featuring the McCrary Sisters on vocals, is a funky track that kicks off with a touch of horn section street parade.
Ramminger ends the set in high fashion with “Stubborn Man,” a zydeco stomp that features Roddie Romero on accordion.