In the last three years, Sena Ehrhardt has released three albums with Blind Pig Records and on each one, her exceptional voice has been the major highlight. However, on her latest release, Live My Life finds her with a completely new set of musicians, including Cole Allen helping with songwriting while also playing guitar, and singing, Rick Rousell on bass, Michael Band on drums (except for two tracks with Paul Peterson) and Bruce McCabe on the keys. This new group combined with the production genius of David Z. gives this album a different feel than the rest. While losing none of the soulful dynamic blues that she is known for, this one delivers a much grittier rock edge than any of her previous work.
Sena’s voice goes from a bedroom whisper to punching you right between the eyes with its power. Match that with a well written track by Bruce McCabe and Cole’s gritty rhythm guitar and you get the rocking opener of “The Stakes Have Gone Up.” “Things You Shouldn’t Need to Know,” which is featured in the video below contains guest Smokin’ Joe Kubek working his magic on slide guitar. Many associate the next track “Slow Down” with the Beatles or even Led Zeppelin but was actually an R&B track first recorded by Larry Williams, but like the other covers on this album they make this uniquely their own. Another fine example of this is the Freddie King/Leon Russell classic “Help Me Through The Day.” Many notable artists from Bobby Blue Bland, Peter Green and even Bernie Marsden when he was in Whitesnake have covered it. Joined by Jimi “Primetime” Smith on guitar, some stellar keyboard work from Bruce McCabe, and Sena signing this from a woman’s point of view makes this minor keyed standard into one of the highlights of this album.
The title track “Live My Life” is a straight ahead pop rocker leads right into “Chilled to the Bone” with its very catchy chorus. Cole Allen’s “Too Late to Ask” from his solo album is rerecorded as Sena and Cole lament on the past as they alternate vocals during the lyrics combining their voices to great effect during the chorus. Things get a little funky on “Everybody Is You” as Sena expresses her doubts to someone jealously accusing her of bad behavior. Sena’s vocals growl as she expresses the frustration inherent in Albert Collins’ “If Trouble Was Money” while we are treated to some more of Bruce’s superb piano work tinkling away in the background as the rhythm section lays down a groove that just grinds along. “Did you Ever Love Me At All” drops some heavy rough rhythm work as Cole and Sena again trade vocals until finally Cole rips off a short intense solo. Closing everything out is the slow ballad of “Come Closer.”
Sena’s simultaneously soulful, dynamic, and emotive voice combined with her new band cements her as one the leading contemporary female blues rock artists. Live My Life is her best work to date and hopefully a glimpse into what the future holds.
The Review: 9/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Help Me Through the Day
– The Stakes Have Gone Up
– Did You Ever Love Me At All
– Things You Shouldn’t Have to Know
The Big Hit
– The Stakes Have Gone Up
Review by Kevin O’Rourke