Ladies Edition - Sue Foley, Bex Marshall and more

Our spotlight on ladies with the blues listens to new releases from Bex Marshall, Deb Ryder, Patti Parks, Katie Knipp and the one and only Sue Foley.

Sue Foley - One Guitar Woman: A Tribute to the Female Pioneers of Guitar

As this album's subtitle indicates, One Guitar Woman finds Foley paying tribute to female guitarists who have influenced her growth as a musician by performing songs written by or associated with those artists. And while Foley often records and performs with her pink Telecaster "Pinky," here she works exclusively with a recently-acquired acoustic guitar, made by famed luthier Salvadore Castillo. The set begins with an Elizabeth Cotten tune, a delicately-picked folk tune named "Oh Babe it Ain't No Lie" where Cotten's lyrics portray the life of a hard-working and world weary woman; later in the program Foley also covers Cotten's "Freight Train," a sort of antithesis of "Oh Babe..." since it finds the subject of the song chucking it all and attempting to lose everyone by hopping a train. Other standout tracks include the Memphis Minnie-associated blues "In My Girlish Ways," the homespun country of Maybelle Carter's "Lonesome Homesick Blues," the subdued "Romance in A Minor," an instrumental originally performed by French classical guitarist Ida Presti, and "La Malaguena," an intricate flamenco cut associated with the "cuchi cuchi" gal herself, Charo. Also feted are Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Elvie Thomas, Geeshie Wiley and Lydia Mendoza. Foley contributes one original, the tribute to "Mother" Maybelle Carter that is "Maybelle's Guitar." One Guitar Woman definitely shows a different side of Foley that most of her fans will likely appreciate.

Bex Marshall - Fortuna

Here's a welcome return for Marshall; the singer and guitarist had not released any new music for a decade prior to Fortuna The album begins with the sassy self-penned "Preaching to the Choir," a rocking R&B number but Bex quickly downshifts for a take on the Buddy and Julie Miller cut "Dirty Water;" while "Preaching to the Choir" choogles, "Dirty Water," about abstaining from alcohol and therefore the trouble it brings, simmers in a more reserved manner. "5AM" is another slow sizzler where Marshall portrays a woman who has been up all night mourning a failed or failing relationship, "Jungle" is a fast country-leaning boogie with BJ Cole on Dobro and "Table for One" is a slice of Little Feat-recalling southern funk. Title cut "Fortuna" is a great showcase for Marshall's guitar playing: a frantic instrumental with hot licks galore. Fans of acts like
Joanne Shaw Taylor will find a similar kind of fun here.

Deb Ryder - Live and Havin' Fun

This live effort, Ryder's first ever, finds her ripping through 14 cuts, two of which are new with the other dozen being drawn from her previous studio efforts. Fittingly opening cut "Fun Never Hurt No One," a funky bit of Memphis soul with greasy sax, advises to "get your party on" and indeed things keep cooking pretty good from there. Everything here is written by Deb and Ric W. Ryder and "Enjoy the Ride" shows that they have a fondness for '70s-style blues rock while the swinging blues of "Temporary Insanity" is another party number and "You Might Just Get Lucky" is a slow, piano-driven ode to barroom seduction that really shows off Ryder's vocal chops. "Ma Misere" moves the party to New Orleans, "Guilty as Sin" recalls Robert Cray's style, "Prisoner of War" channels John Lee Hooker and "Any Bottle on the Shelf" is a bouncy ode to getting sloshed. The effort ends with the rollicking "Blues is All I Got" and believe us, Ryder has got it pretty good. Notably Albert Lee guests on three songs here where most of the crowd noise has been excised from the recording.

Patti Parks - Come Sing with Me

That's Anthony Geraci pounding the ivories Jerry Lee Lewis-style on "DJ's Boogie (I Like to Boogie" where Parks and "Mr. G." lead listeners straight to the dance floor for a fast-paced workout. In a completely opposite mood is "One Foot Out the Door," a slow and remorseful breakup song; apparently the apology within the Stevie Ray Vaughan-like "I'm Sorry" didn't take. "Hamburger Man" is not about food; the song is cloaked in sexual innuendo and, uh, mentions hot dogs too. Parks' vocals move from sweet to sassy easily and often, nicely portraying both the naughty and nice sides of a woman on "A Lotta Man." The great singer Johnny Rawls produced Come Sing With Me and he also duets with Parks on a couple of cuts, notably on the horn-enhanced (Rawls arranged those too) "How Much Longer." The slinky strut of "Good Day for the Blues" wraps up this satisfying release.

Katie Knipp - Me

There's a bit of a vaudeville feel to opening track "Mud" as Knipp portrays a slinky chanteuse but she's blues rocking southern style on "Outlaw Doc," an electric guitar-driven track with lots of harmonica flourishes. "Vampire" puts the bite on with a Tori Amos-recalling piano melody while "Go" finds Knipp portraying a woman disgusted by a barroom pickup artist, putting them down with witty commentary, but revealing also that there's a serious dose of love involved. Such is the main appeal of Knipp's work; she is refreshingly adept with her words. It is impressive too that Knipp wrote everything here and in addition to her sultry vocal work she plays piano, electric guitar, Rhodes, Wurlitzer and Dobro. A listen to the quiet "I Want to Tell You" demonstrates why folks like Tommy Castro, Walter Trout and James LoMenzo (John Fogarty, Megadeth) sing her praises. Stinging guitar highlights "The Devil's Armchair" while it is the Dobro that flavors the Americana of "Dirty Cables;" "Lava Pot" is Delta blues and album closer "Stillness" is a stark piano and vocal number where the stillness is not any kind of restful as it is found in the aftermath of a murder as indicated by the gunshots at the beginning of the tune.

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