“Eliza Neals started as a classically trained piano and opera prodigy but was unsatisfied with the direction her music was taking until she met Barrett Strong of Motown fame. As her mentor he guided her in the ways of rhythm and Blues, unearthing her songwriting and performing skills. With three award-winning cd’s under her belt. “10,000 Feet Below” is her second collaboration with guitarist Howard Glazer. Eliza has taken complete charge of this offering as producer, songwriter, all vocals and keyboards with Glazer backing on all but two tracks along with a variety of rhythm sections. Starting with a lone guitar and hand claps Eliza moans out “Cleotus,” a sparse back porch chant sweetened by her own harmony vocals and slide guitar. She follows this with “Another Lifetime” adding organ while her voice and Glazer’s guitar flow freely together really letting her vocals soar. The taut pounding rhythm of “10,000 Feet Below” allows Eliza’s voice to build in intensity and with each beat as Glazer’s guitar is driven onto frenzy of wails and whines lifting Eliza’s powerful vocals even higher and leaving no doubt she’s ready to fight the devil. Her vice rings out over the band toughly singing “You Ain’t My Dog No More” as a slippery slide answers each line and Eliza doubles down with her own backing vocals. Using her feminine wiles Eliza entices with vocals quiet to a velvety whisper cutting through “Call Me Moonshine.” Eliza warns of the dangers of going “Downhill on a Rocket” as a slide guitar whines behind her vocals that invoke swamps, alligators, voodoo against a crooked smile as her own backing vocals and brew the song into a slow burn. The sparse arrangement of “Merle Dixon” has a taut squawking guitar against Eliza sweetly pleading to shut your mouth while “Burn The Tent Down” is hard rocking blues with a multi tracked vocal chorus. “Cold Cold Night” has the softer guitar of Paul Nelson slipping between Eliza’s piano as her layered vocals soar through this power ballad. The only cover, Skip James’ “Hard Time Killing Floor” is startling in the power of Eliza’s voice swooping and crying against just a haunting piano and Glazer’s ghostly guitar, each element building the tension. The finale is her own “At the Crossroads” a bold piano backing her voice accompanied by the gently echoing guitar of Billy Davis from Hank Ballard and The Midnighters fame, as she holds nothing back.
With “10,000 Feet Below’ Eliza Neals has found her niche in songwriting and the proper backing to let her tough- as- nails voice soar above the crowd.
by Roger and Margaret White”
Check out BIG CITY RHYTHM AND BLUES MAGAZINE 25 Years + Going Strong!