When Sabrina Weeks and Swing Cat Bounce released their first album in 2010, no one in the local boogie-blues band anticipated how successful it would be.
But Tales from Lenny’s Diner debuted at No. 1 in Canada, No. 12 on the worldwide Roots Music Report Blues Music charts and peaked at No. 6 on the world blues charts in March 2011.
That success wasn’t in mind when Weeks and band mate Mike Hilliard, along with Jack Lavin, Bill White and Eric Lentz, sat down to write the songs for what would become Swing Cat Bounce’s follow-up, Got My Eye on You.
The 10-track album will officially be unveiled at a CD release party in Blackwell Hall at The Plaza Hotel on Saturday night. But The Daily News secured a listen and quick interview with the sultry songstress prior.
Work on Got My Eye on You began a year and a half after Tales from Lenny’s Diner went big. Weeks said the plan all along was to release a new album every two years, no easy task at the best of times but Hilliard is such a good and prolific writer that it’s not hard to come up with material.
Like its predecessor, Got My Eye on You is a polished release that starts with a self-titled track guaranteed to get even non-fans of blues music up and dancing.
Despite being about cheating spouses, this is a feel-good song fuelled by a lot of energy and groovy guitar and bass courtesy of Hilliard and Terry Strudwick.
Weeks, ever the accomplished singer, gets to shine here as well. She tears through the lyrics at a breezy pace and never once stumbles or slurs the words. You know what she’s singing about, which can’t be easy to do given the beat she’s matching.
Although this reviewer was only recently introduced to Weeks and her band, it doesn’t take long to realize this is the kind of music Swing Cat Bounce does best. It’s a lively and fun first track, and a perfect way to open the album.
That rapid pace continues with Burn That Boogie and doesn’t really slow down until Weeks’ heartfelt This Lady Sing the Blues.
This slow, almost sombre, song is about the struggle many artists face — be they singers, actors or painters — while balancing their almost ethereal passion with the very real need to pay the bills.
Weeks worked at Thompson Rivers University to support herself until making a break to pursue her singing career full time. She said it was a scary move, one with no guarantee of success or a steady pay cheque, but it had to be done.
“Music is a full-time job. It’s never been a hobby to me,” Weeks told The Daily News. “It was a real struggle for me to do this job that I really wanted to do. That’s what this song is about.”
That message, and her plight, really comes through in lyrics that describe how happy she is when on stage, and that she sings the blues because that’s not what she gets to do every night.
“It’s a struggle, and a lot of people have a hard time leaving behind that sense of security,” said Weeks. “It’s that false sense of security that you cling to this idea when your heart wants what your heart wants.”
For me, Got My Eye on You runs out of steam by the second half. Songs like Sunday, that feature a mom who is way too busy, and Mr. Regret, about women’s bad choices in men, are good, but can’t match the energy or soul of the first five songs.
These aren’t bad tracks by any stretch of the imagination, but the album starts so strong that the last four tunes have a tough act to follow.
Still, if you’re a fan of Sabrina Weeks and Swing Cat Bounce, or the blues in general, Got My Eye on You is well worth the purchase.
Tickets for the release party are on sale at The Plaza. They are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the music and fun starts at 7:30 p.m.
For more information, or to purchase a copy of Got My Eye on You, visit www.sabrinaweeks.com.