Sari Schorr burst onto the Blues-Rock scene in 2016 with her fiery debut ‘A Force Of Nature’, produced by the legendary Mike Vernon (Blue Horizon founder) and released on the Manhaton record label - Vernon, of course, being famous for producing iconic British Blues bands such as Fleetwood Mac, Chicken Shack, Savoy Brown, Ten Years After and John Mayall’s Blues Breakers in the late 1960’s.
Schorr is originally from New York where she worked the Blues and Jazz clubs for many years, an operatically trained singer and songwriter who turned to the Blues for inspiration and fulfilment. It was in January 2015 when Vernon first encountered Sari when he was invited to receive a ‘Keeping The Blues Alive’ award at the prestigious International Blues Challenge in Memphis USA. He was so impressed with her performance that night he decided to come out of retirement to produce an album with her. Several years of touring the USA & Europe with Joe Louis Walker and Poppa Chubby brought Sari greater prominence in the Blues world and as such she has been inducted into the New York Blues Hall of Fame. Sari’s voice is pure dynamite and has been described as being somewhere between Janis Joplin and Tina Turner for shear Blues power, vibrant texture and raw emotion. She definitely is a force of nature!
Schorr’s highly anticipated second album ‘Never Say Never’ will be release on Friday 5th October on the Manhaton Record label. Nine of the eleven songs were recorded live at The Grange Studios in Norfolk, UK. The other two songs, ‘Beautiful’ and ‘Freedom’, were recorded at Superfly Studios, Nottinghamshire. All tracks were produced by Henning Gehrke, with the Grange Studio recordings being engineered by Dave Williams and the Superfly Studio tracks being engineered by Andrew Banfield. The album was mixed by Tom Tapley in Atlanta, Georgia, and mastered by Jon Astley at Close To The Edge in London. The band features Ash Wilson on guitar, Mat Beable on bass, Bob Fridzema on Hammond, keyboards, and Roy Martin on drums, with Neal Wilkinson on drums and Bennet Holland on Hammond, keyboards for ‘Beautiful’ and ‘Freedom’.
With a total of eleven tracks clocking in at 49 minutes and 28 seconds, seven of the songs were written by Schorr and Henning Gehrke. ‘Freedom’ was written by Schorr and Steve Wright, and ‘The New Revolution’ was written by Schorr, Fridzema, Wilson, Beable and Martin. Two cover songs feature on the album including the 1972 Mott The Hoople classic ‘Ready For Love’, brilliantly written by Mick Ralphs and originally on their ‘All The Young Dudes’ album, it also appeared on the Bad Company debut album ‘Bad Company’ in 1974. The album’s title track ‘Never Say Never’ was written by the late great Ian McLagan of Small Faces and The Faces fame, and originally featured on McLagan’s 2008 album of the same name.
‘King Of Rock and Roll’ kicks things off in style and sets the scene nicely, a steadfast building track that rocks with fervent intent rising to a rousing anthemic chorus “I’m on the cross roads to the devil, looking for the king of rock and roll”. This song is a tribute to the great American Blues legend Robert Johnson. Colossal towering and expressive vocals from Sari here! Second song in, ‘Thank You’, is a very personnel song that Sari wrote “for all the good people ruining great relationships”. Intense and confrontational vocal performance, delivered with snarl and attitude! A Rock steady rocker with repeated descending and ascending power chords dominating the arrangement, the accompanying bass adding to the overall texture and atmosphere.
The first cover song of the album, ‘Ready For Love’, is a song is about vulnerability and strength, which is delivered here with much passionate grace and intense raw emotion by Sari and band. The forth track, ‘Valentina', is a fast paced Heavy Rocker, and according to Sari “Valentina is my alter ego who learns too late that the high price of her pursuits have left her alone and broke in a world that is completely indifferent to her”. A fiery and spirited performance.
‘The New Revolution’ opens with a tasty ‘Faces’ style guitar groove and solid snare drum action before strong muscular vocals enter the fray! Notable Hammond embellishment giving it that authentic Faces sound. This song was written in honour of Martin Luther King, Jr. “Stand up for righteousness. Stand up for justice. Stand up for the truth.” Profound statements if ever there was!
The sixth track, ‘Beautiful’, is a slower paced Blues track with some breath-taking husky and smoky vocals from Sari. This song is about “how we all live in a superficial culture driven to distraction in our pursuit of the unattainable state of perfection”. The song is sung with bucket loads of passion and tender emotion, a stunningly beautiful performance! One of the best tracks on the album. Cracking guitar solo too!
Seventh song, ‘Turn The Radio On’, has a cool piano intro that sets this track on its way, climbing up to a sensational melodic chorus with adept acoustic guitar strumming and a four on the floor beat. According to Sari; “This is a sad story about finding the right man at the wrong time”. This is yet another song sung with impassioned emotion oozing from every lyric, you can really hear the heartfelt pain in Sari's voice. ‘Maybe I’m Fooling’ is another energetic rocker. This song is about “balancing vulnerability and empowerment to stand up for yourself and run like hell if necessary”, delivered here with vibrant burning attitude!
Ninth track, ‘Back To LA’, has a sweet and delicate slide guitar intro with jangly tambourine and a ginormous solid snare drum sound, reminiscent of intros by Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne. The chorus sounds a bit like the American Melodic Rock band Heart in full flight! The slide guitar repeats occasionally throughout the song, which gives the track a reoccurring and notable hook. This song is about regretting time wasted and bad decisions made, but also using that regret in a more positive way to make better decisions and learning from bad experiences.
Tenth song, ‘Freedom’, is a mid-paced rocker with a powerful invigorating and up-lifting chorus. The lyrics are basically saying that “Guns take away our freedom, we are not free if we have to fear the normal spaces in which we exist”. This track steam rolls along with sizzling energy and smokin' grit! The last track on the album is the brilliant Ian McLagan cover ‘Never Say Never’ - McLagan wrote this song after his wife's tragic death in 2006. Writing the song was part of his healing process. Sadly McLagan passed away in 2014 due to complications after suffering a stroke, he was sixty-nine years old. This is a truly beautiful song with an ocean of emotion pouring from each and every word. A sensational and arresting performance from Sari, simply breath-taking! She definitely does the song proud. I am certain Ian would approve.
Overall 'Never Say Never' is a very enjoyable and worthy album with powerfully intoxicating and accomplished vocals, strong musicianship, and containing a balanced range of tempos, moods and emotions. Sari will be on tour in the UK in September, with the album launch party being held at The Borderline, London on Friday 14th September.
Steven C. Gilbert