Nicole Hart & Anni Piper

Nicole Hart & Anni Piper
Split Second

Blues Leaf Records

By Lady K
October 2013

The first thing that you notice about the Split Second CD is the cool cover. It has a ‘50’s feel, with Nicole Hart and Anni Piper, both wearing vintage-looking scarves wrapped (in a vintage way) around their heads, ensconced in a vintage ‘55 Chevy ‘flipper’! Split Second, the album, came about because Joe Morabia of Blues Leaf Records heard radio interviews with each of the women and decided they could make good music together. Nicole Hart, from Florida, and Anni Piper, from Australia, were interested too, and met up with Joe and a bunch of talented musicians, and Split Second was born.

In addition to Hart (vocals) and Piper (vocals and bass), the other players on Split Second are the talented Blues Leaf All-Stars: Ron Rauso (guitar); Juke Joint Jonny (acoustic guitar, dobro); Sandy Mack (harp); Sim Cain (drums); with special guest John Ginty (organ, piano). The CD contains 2 original tracks, 1 each from Hart and Piper, and a smorgasbord of tunes from a somewhat disparate list of artists.

The rockin’ duet “Can’t Let You Go” (Parham/Parham), also provides some very impressive organ riffs; while the up-tempo rocker “Clap Your Hands” (Chatman), gives Ginty a chance to impress on keyboards, and showcases Rauso’s guitar. Tom Gray’s “You Can’t Make Somebody Love You” is a slow tune with memorable organ input; unfortunately, the song feels ponderous and plodding.

“Ain’t Nobody Watchin’” is the track written by Anni Piper. It’s slow, sexy and bluesy, and Mack’s harp is wonderful, but the song is a bit scary. “I’ve got a dark side / when there ain’t nobody watching you better watch out for me / I howl just like a wild thing, feed me a bullet / into my casket, watch me pound another nail.” I dunno – I was uncomfortable listening . . . it sounded threatening; is she telling him she gets what she wants, or else?

Hart’s “Listen to the Rain Fall” is a slow blues tune, a very ‘torchy’goodbye. “Well it’s rainin’ in my heart, oh my love I lost it all / you mean more to me now, now that I know your spirit is free.”

“Dream Baby” (Cindy Walker) is more rock than blues, and yes, this is the tune made famous by Roy Orbison, many years (decades) ago. Lady K prefers this version of the tune, but is also chagrined to admit that she still remembered all of the lyrics from Orbison’s record so many, many years ago. And speaking of many, many years ago, Sonny Curtis’ “Walk Right Back” is also an old ‘top-40s’ tune, and I preferred it to the original 1960s tune, made famous by the Everly Brothers.

My fave track is Piper and Hart’s treatment of “Why Should I Feel So Bad” (Sugar Ray Norcia) – love the guitar, the slow sexiness of this tune, and the heady organ/guitar instrumental sections – yummy. Another fun track is Trudell and Hartsoe’s uptempo “Twelve Bar Blues:” “Tonight’s my night for drinking – twelve bar blues / What you gotta do is start lovin’ me and stop giving me the twelve bar blues.” Lively organ, rockin’ guitar, lyrics that’ll make you thirsty for at least one of those twelve bars.

Sorry, but Lady K LOVES all things Janis, so she found that the Hart/Piper version of Joplin’s “One Good Man” (with its slight twinge of country) wasn’t nearly as much fun as Janis’ down and dirty rocking blues original. I don’t hate this version; it’s just not Janis!!

Lady K thinks she likes Nicole Hart and Anni Piper; but not necessarily the choice of tunes for Split Second.

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