Soul Be It!

This is a solid collection of R&B-, soul- and rock-flavored blues music from a promising young talent, a rare female blues vocalist who also is a formidable guitar slinger. It’s also a historic recording of sorts, the first nationally distributed album recorded live at the Sierra Nevada Brewery’s Big Room in Chico—the first of what should be a string of them.

Recorded on Sunday, June 30, by Pro Sound tape meister Dale Price, it’s a collection of eight tunes—a couple of them over 10 minutes long, most of them penned by Coleman—that range from Robert Cray-style ballads ("My Heart Bleeds Blue") and anthemic R&B stylings (the Elias McDaniel/Koko Taylor hit “I’m a Woman") to rocking blues numbers on which Coleman showcases her slinky, insinuating guitar playing.

She’s a solid singer ("I’m a Woman" is killer), but for a live recording the album lacks fire, as if she and her band, the Thrill Seekers, never quite cut loose. That, or the musicians were so self-conscious about being taped that they were afraid to make mistakes. It’s well recorded, and there’s a nice five-minute video (filmed by Peter Berkow and crew) of her blistering solo on the last cut, "Goodbye Misery." The Big Room crowd’s applause and hollering suggest Coleman put on a good show, but somehow the heat doesn’t fully radiate on disc.