Years of studio and live work (including a European tour fronting Janis Joplin’s old group Big Brother and the Holding Company) have given this Mississippi-born vocalist a confidence that’s evident in every note she sings. Recording in England, Mills and her coproducer/bassist Ian Jennings—aided by Andy Fairweather Low (of Amen Corner fame) on guitar and Eric Heigle on drums—achieve a clean-edged sound that recalls the '60s heyday of Memphis soul. Torchy ballads like “My Happy Song,” Dixie-fried funk tunes like “Keep on Smiling” (a 1974 hit for Wet Willie), and rollicking, upbeat numbers like “Why Do I Still Love You?” give the album depth and variety. The title tune is an especially well-written testimony of torment and longing. “Tennessee Tears” and a cover of Otis Redding’s “These Arms of Mine” are steeped in the same sort of bruised tenderness that Joplin reveled in. Without resorting to overkill, Mills turns Tempered in Fire into a tour de force that leaves the listener wanting more.