Rory Block- Crystal Shawanda- Jimmy Carpenter- More

We spin hot new releases from Rory Block, Crystal Shawanda, Jimmy Carpenter and more!

Rory Block - Ain't Nobody Worried: Celebrating Great Women of Song

Block is fond of releasing albums that have a theme and she carries on that tradition here with the third volume in her "Power Women of the Blues" series. Fans will be familiar with many of the songs she covers here as many of them were big hits. Examples include a jumping version of the chestnut "I'll Take You There" which honors Mavis Staples, the oft-covered "Midnight Train to Georgia" which honors Gladys Knight and Smokey Robinson's "My Guy" which honors Mary Wells. As far as blues covers, Block sounds especially earthy on the Koko Taylor-associated "Cried Like a Baby" and the Etta James favorite "I'd Rather Go Blind." She also "covers" herself by performing an acoustic version of her most-requested song ever, the gold record-earning "Lovin' Whiskey."

Crystal Shawanda - Midnight Blues

Shawanda won a JUNO Award in Canada for Best Blues Album in 2021 and now she returns with a stellar new record, Midnight Blues. The title cut, about a recently single woman on the prowl for some action, also has a "your loss" factor to it as the woman locks her ex out of the house so that both parties have the midnight blues. Sounding a bit like Sass Jordan, Shawanda imbues the cut with the perfect mix of emotions. Crystal co-wrote a good bunch of the set with her guitarist Dewayne Strobel including the harmonica-driven romp "Rumpshaker" and the funky groove that is "I Want My Soul Back." For covers there's a rocking take on Buddy Guy's "What Kind of Man," a rendition of Willie Dixon's "Evil" that indeed conjures a sinister vibe, a take on Jim Lauderdale's torch song "Why Do I Love You" and Kimberley Rew's "That's Just the Woman in Me." That cut was previously a big hit for Celine Dion; Rew also wrote the smash hit "Walking on Sunshine" for Katrina and the Waves when he was a member of that band.

Bywater Call - Remain

A seven-piece band fronted by vocalist Meghan Parnell, Bywater Call kicks off Remain with "Falls Away," a soulful and rocking cut that draws from the blues in the same manner that the Allman Brothers Band did, or later the Black Crowes. "Lover Down Slow" finds the band hitting a poppier groove but still with lots of R&B flavorings including organ from Alan Zemaitis and sweet slide guitar from Dave Barnes. Parnell's vocals are a little Joplin-esque on "Left Behind" and the song is structured like something Janis might have sung too; poppin' bass from Mike Meusel leads off the funky "Sea We Swim" where horns also add to the earthiness. The band wrote or co-wrote everything here and all are great showcases for Parnell; don't be surprised if she climbs onto your "favorite vocalists" list.

The Hungry Williams - Let's Go!

It's not often that you'll find a credit for "voice of Satan" in an album's liner notes but Let's Go! credits the Hungry Williams' drummer John Carr with the contribution on "669 (Across the Street from the Beast.)" No, the band hasn't gone death metal; the cut is a swinging blues bounce and Satan seems friendly enough as he invites his neighbor in for drinks and snacks and to listen to his band. The bit of novelty ends the record; before that singer Kelli Gonzalez and her four-piece backup (and three-piece horn section) revel New Orleans-style with "Mardi Gras Day," flash back to the '50s with "Movin' On" and the doo wop-informed "You'd Better Find Yourself Another Fool" and a great interpretation of the chestnut "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show." This very fun set also includes one cut penned by Gonzalez, the saxophone-enhanced story of "Big Mouth Betty."

Blue Moon Marquee - Scream, Holler & Howl

They get some help from a few guest players here but Blue Moon Marquee is essentially a duo comprised of A.W. Cardinal on guitar and vocals and Jasmine Collette on upright bass and vocals. The album's title cut is a twangy and swinging track that finds the mood being heightened with Hammond B3 grooves laid down by Darcy Phillips and greasy sax riffs from Jerry Cook; Cardinal sings lead in a bit of a gruff voice on the cut and you can just picture these cats strutting to some smoky nightclub. "Hound Dog on a Chain" moves to a clicking rhythm as Collette sings, using straight language and metaphor, about a "cad and a bounder" who is not entirely unappealing. Some will hear notes of Tom Waits in Cardinal's vocals, especially on cuts like "Thick as Thieves" and the duo's interpretation of Lonnie Johnson's "Long Black Train." Listening to Scream, Holler & Howl is like a visit to an old time cabaret, a place to let loose and have fun and maybe get a little bit naughty. Guitarist Duke Robillard guests on several cuts.

Jimmy Carpenter - The Louisiana Record

Singer and sax man Carpenter lives in Las Vegas now but he spent a dozen years in New Orleans and this set of covers sees him laying a little Louisiana on some of the songs that have influenced his overall style. Appropriately enough the set begins with a take on "I Hear You Knocking." Originally recorded by New Orleans singer Smiley Lewis in 1955 the cut is oft covered and rocker Dave Edmunds had a big hit with the fun groove. Another well-traveled cut is "I Got Loaded;" the song is a favorite singalong for many, not just those who overindulged the night before. Speaking of overindulgence, Carpenter's sax sounds woozy at the beginning of "Something You Got," a classic R&B cut originally by Chris Kenner and famously covered by the Moody Blues when they were still a blues band. Another cut that's been covered by many is the rockin' "Barefootin'" which is a great dance number with, of course, a rowdy sax break from Carpenter. The great Allen Toussaint's slow dance "All These Things" is the album's quiet time; completely to the opposite is "Rockin' at Cosimo's," a sax-and-marching drums instrumental that pays homage to the famed French Quarter bar and the sound of a Mardi gras second line.

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