Irene Sage is a direct link to the carefree pre-Katrina days when New Orleans was a true musicians’ town and you didn’t see limos on Frenchmen Street.
Back then it was a good bet that one of the members of the crowd in the Apple Barrel after midnight would be Sage herself.
This is a solid album that aspires to nothing more than being fine music made by a talented singer and guitarist, a project born out of joy and perfectly reflecting that attitude to the listener.
Sage makes her case convincingly in “No Place Like New Orleans” but it’s the well-crafted melodies on songs like “Cloud Nine,” “Miracle,” “Sweet Dreams” and the title track where Sage’s dusky, soulful voice really shines.
On the New Orleans R&B ballad “Calling Me” she makes the Dave Bartholomew sound her own with a slow, sultry delivery.
Sage is a party girl at heart and she rocks out here on the Stones-ish “That’s Alright” and isn’t afraid to cover a few favorite tunes—Warren Haynes’ beautiful “SoulShine” and a couple of classic rockers, Fleetwood Mac’s “Gold Dust Woman” and Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On” (great to hear a woman belt this out).
The record is a warm and friendly listening experience, but in the end it’s the sheer beauty and honesty of Sage’s voice that carries the day.