“Acoustic guitar goddess” Gayla Drake Paul has gone rogue, choosing a Fender Telecaster and VOX AC15 as her tools for her newest recording, Luckiest Woman, for Ivanhoe Road Music.
It’s been a long time coming. Paul has played with electric guitars for years, but finally decided to devote some serious time and energy to ramping up some real electric chops and writing some harder-edged songs. “Acoustic guitar will always be my first love, but there’s something really magical about a Telecaster,” she says. “You can go from this buttery, smooth tone to ripping-the-face-off snark within a second, it’s really awesome!” Preferring a chimey growl to either of those extremes, Paul has crafted some cool, catchy, blues-tinged songs that take a classic rock treatment admirably.
Paul has carefully hand-picked the musical partners appearing on this disc. Her usual ass-kickin’ rhythm section, Dan Johnson on bass and Eric Douglas on drums, is in fine form, complemented by Paul’s own unique fingerstyle rhythm chops, and rounded out with the addition of the brilliant Eric Schnell on keyboards. The Plus Three of the ensemble consists of lead guitarists Tommy Bruner and Bill Nix, and saxophonist Terry Lawless, who flew to Iowa in the midst of a world tour with U2 to record two cuts, stating, “I’d jump at the chance to record with this line-up,” a powerful endorsement of the level of musicianship present on this recording.
Paul chose to work with supporting instrumentalists Bruner, Lawless and Nix rather than take on lead guitar duties herself, because she wanted a more conversational approach. “There’s more energy, more interaction, more give-and-take in this approach instead of just me me me all over it. Besides, I’ve wanted to work with Tommy, Terry and Bill forever, and this was a really great vehicle for that.”
The ten original songs range from the haunting blues-ballad “Thunder in December” to the hard-rocking “To the Bone,” but both are about unsavory weather, which is a frequent topic and useful metaphor that Paul is able to use to great effect. The title cut is both a love song, and a tribute to the band she has assembled. "These guys are some of the best musicians I have ever known. Everybody who hears who is on this record says, 'Oh, that's gonna be amazing!' And it was! I do feel like the luckiest woman in the whole wide world."