REVIEWS FOR THE LONG JOURNEY HOME
Listening to The Long Journey Home feels like a night-long dance party as each song tests the boundaries of southern American roots genres. Vaneese Thomas celebrates her family and musical heritage in this latest album, following her most recent release Blues for My Father (2014). Raised in a talented and renowned musical family, Vaneese is the youngest daughter of Rufus Thomas and sister of Carla Thomas. R&B, soul, funk, and blues styles come naturally to Vaneese, and her ability to wield and experiment with these song varieties is evident in The Long Journey Home.
Vaneese demands complete attention in her performance using powerful vocals with a full band including harmonica, electric guitar, and a brass section. She kicks off the album with “Sweet Talk Me,” a rockin’ rhythm and blues song with a catchy refrain and a chorus of back-up singers beckoning listeners to the dance floor. The album follows into “Lonely No More,” a song keeping with the Delta blues tradition about reclaiming self-confidence. The catchiest song of the album, “Sat’day Night on the River,” starts up with full energy and a swinging saxophone solo by Cliff Lyons. Perhaps one of the most surprising songs on this album, because of its unique blend of genres, is “Country Funk.” Demonstrating exactly what its title implies, Vaneese sings “I just can’t get enough of that country funk” while the percussion and brass section support elements of funk music, and dobro, banjo, and fiddle intertwine creating an intriguing mix of music traditions. The genres highlighted on this album convey Vaneese’s appreciation for the musically diverse reputation of Memphis.
Vaneese wrote songs on The Long Journey Home about her concerns on past and current social justice issues. Civil rights, imbalances of political power, and the need for love and kindness are common themes in songs such as “Mean World,” “Rockin’ Away the Blues,” and “The More Things Change,” during which she reflects on Sam Cooke’s timeless hit “A Change is Gonna Come”:
“Well, I’m still here waiting.
Hardly a damn thing has been done.
Well ain’t it funny? I said, it’s a shame
That the more things change, the more they stay the same”
Vaneese attempts to offer something for everyone on this album, whether they are songs about love and inspiration as in “Mystified” and “Prince of Fools” or songs with heavier blues and gospel roots like “I Got a Man in TN” or “Revelation.” The album closes with a cover of “The Chain,” originally written by Fleetwood Mac. It is a distinctive concluding track relative to the rest of the album for its minimalist acoustic instrumental section. Nevertheless, Vaneese sings out with her heart’s full power, which she sustains throughout the album.
Reviewed by Jennie Williams
Black Grooves September 2016
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Vanesse Thomas, legendary R&B, jazz and soul blues musician today announced the upcoming release of her seventh studio album, The Long Journey Home on Segue Records. Following the critically- acclaimed success of Blues for my Father, a daughter’s ode to the late Rufus Thomas, Vaneese is returning to her blues roots in a thoughtful, passionate body of work that pays homage to her world-renowned musical influences.
Possibly her best music to date, Thomas has emerged from the shadow of a career as a background vocalist with artists such as Aretha Franklin, Sting and Stevie Wonder, to shining center stage. Thomas, an award-winning singer, has a winding musical journey with forays into R&B, jazz and gospel.
“It was a thrill to sing these songs live with a band in-studio just like my father, Rufus Thomas, did at Stax and Sun Records,” said Thomas who wrote 11 out of the 12 songs on The Long Journey Home. A collection of blues stylings that does her native Memphis proud, Thomas and the veteran musicians on the album bring deep understanding to its tracks. Thomas’ rendition of the pop/blues hit “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac is the record’s jewel; she sings this song with a pathos that takes your breath away.
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True to her pedigree, Vaneese Thomas digs deep into Southern-fried r&b and soul/blues, dosed with just the right amounts of style and swagger. Daughter and sister, respectively, of Stax Records legends Rufus and Carla Thomas, Ms. T proves herself a formidable talent in her own right, matching a classic vocal delivery with lyrically sharp, true-to-the-genre original songs. Standouts include “Sweet Talk Me”, “Mystified” and “Prince Of Fools”. The sole cover, a haunting take on Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” sounds tailor-made and should draw attention as well. Studio backup and production is first-rate
Roots Music Report Review
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VANEESE THOMAS/ The Long Journey Home: When you have a dad named Rufus and his label Stax coursing through your veins, it’s a sure bet you can deliver a deep soul Southern gem. Of course, not to respect Thomas’ own chops is a crime. More down home than her debut, Thomas takes off the gloves and isn’t afraid to get down and dirty in the potato hole to dig out all the sound that can be. This lass is going to keep the family name shining in the business as she charts her way to the future—even if it’s via a welcome return to the past. This music is timeless, it isn’t about fashion.
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Alison Kaufman writes about Vaneese appearing with Dr. John in Elmore Magazine.com
“Also appearing during the New York show was Vaneese Thomas, daughter of the legendary Sun and Stax recording star, Rufus Thomas. I had high hopes that we might see her at Norwalk and was thrilled to find her sitting in my row as I took my seat. Vaneese’s 2014 release Blues for my Father is a loving tribute and a fine recording that would shine even without her famous lineage.”
“The good times kept rolling through the 2 hour plus show with some tunes from the band’s tribute to Louis Armstrong, Ske-Dat-De-Dat. Vaneese Thomas took the stage and sang Shemeika Copeland’s part on “Sweet Hunk O’Trash” then knocked “Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen” out of the park.”
“Blues For My Father” Nominated For 2 Blues Awards!!!
Vaneese has been nominated for Best Soul Female Artist and her CD “Blues For My Father has been nominated for Best Soul Blues Album!!
Awards to be held in Memphis TN May 7, 2015
We Will Be There!!
Keep your fingers crossed
“When My Baby Gets Home” Made Top 40 for 2014 on Inside The Blues with James Doran !!
“BLUES FOR MY FATHER” #1 ON FRENCH BLUES RADIO FOR SEPTEMBER !!
“I have been reviewing discs from this year and have paid really close attention to “Blues For My Father”, and I have to say, it is truly one of the very best recordings of this year in my opinion. Incredibly well performed, great musicians, strong vocals and wonderful songwriting. That’s all anyone can ask from a record. I am particularly taken with “Corner of Heartache and Pain”. Absolutely terrific tune! I love the way the tension builds and it has that ominous feeling that only the best blues songs have. Really well done!”
– Brett Fleming WEVL FM 89.9 Memphis, TN
“Not a betting man, but I’ll wager Blues For My Father winds up in the award
noms this year. One of the best recordings I’ve heard in a while.
It lacks nothing……..”
– Dave Gallaher, WLRH, Huntsville, AL
“I’m so all in on this CD! This is the best f’ing CD I’ve heard in months!!! A ton of Memphis soul, some lowdown funk, great tunes and grooves, and a voice that is just killin’ me! Not like some of these half-baked, poser, would-be “blues mamas.”
I loved your daddy for decades. Damn if he didn’t leave us a daughter who knows what it’s all about! Thank you so much for making such a brilliant, heartfelt recording.
– Jef Jaisun 2007 Recipient-Keeping The Blues Alive
“Rufus Thomas’ other daughter is loaded
with soul and blues as well. Tossing a smoking dose of Nawlins in the
Memphis soul stew, this is a sure footed soul/blues romp from a gal that
knows what she wants, how to get it and won’t hold back if she doesn’t have
to. If you hear her in a club, this is music to make you drink up—-in a
good way. Smoking throughout.”
– Chris Spector, Midwest Record