Columbus jazz-pop ensemble The Liz Woolley Band is releasing its long-awaited new album Something I Can Feel this week. The band is throwing an Album Release Show in their debut at Bungalow Jazz on Friday, April 14th, from 7 to 9pm. Suggested donation for admission is $10. Performing under this name since the recording of singer-songwriter Liz Woolley’s sophomore solo album in 2014, the band boasts a roster of young talent including guitarist Dennis Hodges, vibraphonist Dylan Bram, bassist John Allen, and drummer Brian Ellerman. The outfit has performed a number of concerts in the last few years, and I found them particularly impressive in the Saturday afternoon heat of 2016’s Jazz & Rib Festival. They should be even better in the comfortable and intimate climes of Becky Ogden’s bungalow, so Friday’s show will be a treat. Keep reading for my thoughts on an excellent collection of well-crafted original tunes.
From the outset of opening track “A Pleasant Turn,” one of two tunes Woolley and Allen co-wrote, the band establishes a sound and mission of classic pop subject matter (here, a potential relationship) rendered with stylish, slinky sophistication. “Got Me (Like You Knew You Would)” finds Woolley examining another situation in strong voice before a subtly rocking solo from Hodges and a powerful passage from Bram. The sultry “Go Slow” appropriately dials back the tempo, guided by Ellerman’s clicking rhythm and given a smoky atmosphere by Bram. The lovestruck but breezy “Made Me Believe” is a standout track, with Woolley’s eager appreciation of the song’s object balanced by the unflappably cool tone of the music. “Hallelujah” offers more traditional yearning spiced with soulful breakdowns and nimble solos by Hodges and Bram. “All I Need” conjures quintessential pop by opening with Woolley’s dreamy vocals over Hodges’ sprightly acoustic guitar and expands to a joyful full band statement anchored by Allen’s rock solid lines. Allen’s soulful strut sets “That Smile” on a sunset stroll with stars painted by Bram’s vibraphone. Hodges’ composition “What Will It Take” pushes the band into forward motion, with sparkling fills by Ellerman and some well-placed scatting by Woolley. The title track finale heads home with Allen’s propulsive bassline anchored by Ellerman, invigorated solos by Bram and Hodges, and pointed direction by Woolley.
Something I Can Feel is a rousing collection of jazz-pop compositions played by a group of equals, not simply a band backing a singer/leader. If you can’t make it to the release show, look for the album to be available here by the weekend, as well as outlets like iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify. Check out a few live videos of album tracks below: