The Black Lillies (Cruz Contreras, Trisha Gene Brady, Bowman Townsend, Sam Quinn, Mike Seal and Jonathan Keeney.) return, reinvigorated and ready to bring their genre blending Hard to Please to the waiting masses on October 2nd. Hard To Please is signature Lillies, but funkier, more vibrant, with a thick, welcome infusion of organ, saxophone, trumpet, and glorious guitar riffs. If there’s a current flowing through the record, it’s that of the push and pull of love: desire, dissolution and complications, pushed along by a soulful, bluesy groove.
The fabulous foot stomper “Hard To Please” opens the record with attitude as Contreras sings “ain’t nothin' ever good enough for you.” That’s followed by “That’s The Way It Goes Down,” which blends roots and rock on a tune about a good love gone as a result of indiscretions. “Blame it on the one that you’d love to hate/But you can’t so you won’t so you just forgive/There’s a better way to learn and live.”
One of the albums many highlights, (and fan favorite) “Mercy,” is a gorgeous ballad with lyrics that are a sensual, honest and vulnerable plea for another’s love. “Mmm….flesh and blood/That’s why I’m calling, calling on you.” A similar emotionalism is found on “Desire,” a quiet song about an intense relationship that’s so visceral you feel it. “You can walk away, but it still won’t change/You can’t hide that burning flame.”
Whether they are taking lead, sharing it, or harmonizing, Contreras and Gene Brady’s (who can be reminiscent of both Etta James and Natalie Merchant) vocals have always complimented one another perfectly. Both consistently convey what a song calls for whether it’s warmth, sorrow, honesty, or joy. They trade lead vocals on “Bound To Roam” an emotional look at fated love and the ebullient “Dancin',” chasing away the blues and reaffirming love even though “life ain’t always been a ball.” They harmonize about misadventures on both the rollicking “40 Days” and “Broken Shore;” the latter with its gothic like atmosphere, created by fiddle and banjo, tells the story of Contreras’ grandfather, who fought in Iwo Jima. Brady takes the lead, exuding strength, confidence and awareness, on the retro flavored “The First Time.” “Never felt such cold inside/Tell me, where is my pride.” While Contreras closes out the record with the absolutely beautiful, delicate track “Fade,” a piano filled plea to “hold on to tomorrow and we’ll count our lucky stars.”
Contreras and Co. have poured their heart and soul into Hard To Please. You’ll not only hear it, but you’ll feel it in every track as you automatically sense that swell in your chest, recall a memory or notice your foot tapping. Don’t let the title deceive you, Hard To Please is anything but.
Order Hard To Please here.