Kat Riggins- Todd Sharpville- The Strongman Blues Remedy

Kat Riggins - Progeny

Riggins begins her new album with "Walk On," a blues rock flamethrower where her gutsy vocals are augmented by searing licks from Mike Zito who handles most of the guitar throughout. Riggins slows things down for the seductive groove of "Got to be God," a cut about being enamored with a love relationship; on "Warriors" Kat also acknowledges that strength comes from above. "In My Blood" is a gold old-fashioned blues shuffle where Riggins pays homage to her parents and ancestors and the whole album is similarly full of gratitude. A chance to hear Riggins' voice without instrumental backing comes with the acapella "Walk with Me Lord (Interlude)" that's placed at mid-album; from there she sings the smoky blues rocker "Promised Land" which incorporates part of the Jimi Hendrix chestnut "Voodoo Chile" and hits a funky buzz for "My City," a tribute to Miami with guitar by Albert Castiglia and a couple of rapped verses from Busta Free. Yes, Progeny oozes respect for family, womankind and god but not to be lost here is that Riggins speaks her mind with a phenomenal voice and tons of hooks.

Todd Sharpville - Medication Time

The cover of Medication Time depicts Sharpville in padded room wearing a straitjacket. It's not there just as a lark; Sharpville had a breakdown nearly two decades ago and ended up in a mental institution for a couple months and this period inspired some of the songs on Medication Time. Sharpville wrote most of the songs here but he opens with a take on Bob Dylan's "Walk Out in the Rain," a cut where he gets to show off his substantial guitar skills (the song was famously covered by another guitar hotshot --- Eric Clapton.) "Brothers from Another Mother" is a funky, horn-enhanced strut featuring Larry McCray dueting with Sharpville; it too has hot guitar parts. It must have seemed like time really dragged when Sharpville was hospitalized, so it's no surprise that his chronicle of the experience, "Medication Time," is a slow and lengthy moaner. Not everything here reflects depression though, "Red Headed Woman" is a fast and joyous shuffle with a little Buck Owens-style pickin' included. Sharpville also covers the Dire Straits/Sting hit "Money for Nothing," and he completely blues-ifies it.

The Strongman Blues Remedy - Vol 1

Steve Strongman is a veteran, award-winning player based in Canada and here he's assembled a crew of similarly renowned players consisting of Steve Marriner, Dawn Tyler Watson, Crystal Shawanda, Jesse O'Brien, Alex Fraser and Harrison Kennedy. Strongman handles all the guitar parts here and most of the harmonica and bass. He wrote or co-wrote the set too, tuning into a Delta blues groove for "Swansong" with Marriner sharing vocals; Watson sings "Fine Young Man" while Strongman plays sweet slide guitar. Kennedy sings on the soulful pop of "I Don't Miss You" and the shuffling, piano enhanced "I Like to Ride" which if fun to sing along to. "White Lightnin'" is slow and seductive, like the juice has just kicked in; "Gettin' Stoned" on the other hand is a bouncy ode to the joys of cannabis. An outstanding track is "Tell Me I'm Wrong," a rocker with vocals by Shawanda and exciting guitar from Strongman who nears psychedelia on his solos.

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