Believing in Love dropped last month and there’s no better way to beat the winter doldrums than some new smokin’ make-out and dance music. On first listen, this was a different sound than expected and I had to reconcile the bluesy rocker I know with the crooner side of Amber Sweeney on this disc. The confusion is all on me and I should have known better than to put her in a lane. Amber Sweeney knows exactly who she is, what lane to travel and is one of the hardest working solo acts around. In this new collection, she offers a peek at the raw, bluesy powerhouse she is, but reveals to us another facet of what is a true northwest musical gem.
Out of the gate, the smooth jazz piano, played by Josh Rawlings featured in the title track leads the way through a vignette of hope and love. Strings by Andrew Joslyn and Jared Douglas on backing vocals lift it to the status of potential pop power duet material. It’s in “Your Will Be Done” where Amber’s soul opens with her quiet guitar leading us through a prayer, building to a full-on background gospel choir and then falling quietly full circle to a simple end. Shout out to the Battle Ground High School vocal jazz ensemble for their contribution on that track. Amber’s known for her bridge building, giving and going the distance for causes dear to her. It’s no surprise she pulled in a group of students to help out on that one.
Believing in Love is not only a diverse collection of songs about one of the most precious and destructive emotions we can experience, it’s a love letter to all of us fortunate enough to live in the Northwest. Amber’s been singing “The Great Northwest” for some time and I’ve heard it live several times, but this version amps it up to anthem status. Michael “Wanz” Wansley added a rap verse and there’s a layer of horns, as well as all kinds of epic additions with backing vocals, strings, echoes and righteous declarations about who we are here in the Great Northwest.
“We are the lovers, we are the dreamers…” It’s a true party song.
It’s the versatility and control of her voice, which is finer than ever, that captures new listeners, but it’s the vocal control across all genres that keeps her at the top of the playlist. As always, her writing is amazing and her team, led by producer Geoff Ott and London Bridge Studios boosted her to the next level with this body of work.
I’m probably not the first to say it, but she and this disc are Grammy worthy.
(Believing in Love is available for purchase digitally via the Amber Sweeney website HERE.)