Ace vocalist shows confidence in first-rate new album

Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 12:00am
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Jonell Mosser

She’s been one of Music City’s most respected and trusted harmony and background vocalists for more than two decades, and Jonell Mosser excels at so many types of tunes that it’s no surprise she’s constantly in demand.

When you’ve worked with Etta James, Rodney Crowell, Patti Smyth, Vince Gill, B.B. King, Wynonna and Waylon Jennings (to comprise just a short list), there’s no doubt that you can sing any and everything with distinction.

Thus it’s appropriate that her new release is titled Trust Yourself (Better Angels), because part of the process for deciding what she would do involved Mosser and producer/engineer Bil VornDick (well known for his work with Alison Krauss) going through a lengthy process before finally settling on the disc’s 12 tracks.

“We must have listened to hundreds of songs, all types of things,” Mosser remembered. “Bil told me that we didn’t want to worry about making this a country or bluegrass record, or trying to make a hit disc, even though we’d certainly be delighted if that happened. What was most important were getting the right songs, ones I felt comfortable doing and the ones we felt were really true to the record. We actually ended up with more than enough good tunes, and we had to leave a couple of them off, but I think we got a great mix of material.”

Mosser will perform selections from Trust Yourself Friday night in a CD release party at 3rd and Lindsley. The title track, a Bob Dylan tune, nicely sets the stage for what’s a first-rate and diversified release. There’s a powerful and soulful cover of Harlan Howard’s “Chokin’ Kind” (also a big R&B hit for Joe Simon) and several pieces that feature Mosser collaborating on the writing with Tom Britt (“Good Things,” “Tennessee Blues”) or with John and Johana Hall (“You Know Who You Are”).

She’s working with a number of upper echelon Music City instrumentalists and vocalists, among them saxophonists Jeff Coffin and Jimmy Hall, bassists David Hungate and Victor Wooten, drummer Steve Turner, guitarists Bruce Dees and Tom Britt, keyboardists Kevin McKendree and VornDick, and an all-star corps of harmony vocalists (Bekka Bramlett, Etta Britt, Shelia Lawrence, Chip Davis, Angela Prim, John Cowan, Vickie Carrico, Sheila Lawrence and Hall).

“You really couldn’t ask for better support on any project,” Mosser said. “Everyone was so professional, yet we had a great time all the way through. I think that this CD really is the culmination of everything that I’ve learned over the years about singing and both Bil and (executive producer) Rob (Rappaport) did such a fabulous job on it.”

She’s had some other solid solo projects over the years, particularly her salute to songwriter Townes Van Zant (Around Townes) in 1996. But Trust Yourself stands as a wide-ranging, definitive work that definitely affirms the vast and mighty vocal talent of Jonell Mosser.

What: CD release party for Jonell Mosser’s Trust Yourself
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: 3rd and Lindsley, 818 Third Ave. S.
Cost: $10,
Info: 259-9891, 3rdandlindsley.com