Ladies Play the Blues

This time out our Get the Blues column spotlights some of the best new releases by women working in the blues genre.

Sue Foley - The Ice Queen
Guitarist Foley kicks off her latest album with a funky cut called "Come to Me" where she sings a seductive "come hither" over equally sensual slide guitar playing by guest Charlie Sexton who also joins Foley on the chorus. Foley really rocks out in a stripped-down mode, working with just a drummer and upright bass player on "Run" as apparently by this time she'd had enough of the lover she called for earlier. The album's title cut is a slow and smoky, Delta-informed blues but Foley is back to swinging with "The Lucky Ones" where Jimmie Vaughan guests on guitar and vocals; on the mid-tempo dance number "Fools Gold" Foley duets with Billy F. Gibbons of ZZ Top fame who also plays guitar and harmonica on the cut. Foley uses vocal nuance more than volume on this set of mostly self-penned songs and the result is a refreshing sound that's easy to cuddle up with.

Erin Harpe and the Delta Swingers - Big Road
The latest from Harpe and her three-piece back-up band is a set featuring mostly covers with a few originals mixed in; among the best of the self-penned cuts are the fast-shuffle of "Voodoo Blues" and the super speedy blues blast of "Stop & Listen," an irresistible dance cut that is guaranteed to leave most dancers sated but sweaty. The top cover interpretations include a rollicking take on Mississippi Fred McDowell's "Kokomo Me Baby," a sassy version of Slim Harpo's "Shake Your Hips" that features an extended jam where Harpe romps on the guitar while Matt "Charles" Prozialeck honks up a storm on harmonica, and a subdued version of Randy Newman's "Guilty" that focuses on Harpe's voice and acoustic guitar playing.

Miss Freddye - Lady of the Blues
The album opens with "Miss Freddye's Gonna Fix Ya" where blues shouter Miss Freddye sings about getting her man off booze and dope by replacing them with sensual delights, but the thought could just as easily be applied to getting out of a funk by listening to Miss Freddye's music. No matter what the song lyrics are about, the music is uplifting; a perfect example is "Chain Breaker" where Miss Freddye portrays a woman who desperately needs a change but she does so with a wink and to a melody that is 100% fun. Miss Freddye does get deep into the blues here too, like on "A Losing Battle," but still there's a sparkle in her voice, and it is that quality that makes this record such a fine listen.

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