Blue Lew Campbell
Sister Blue - “I Should’ve Said No”
Sister Blue - “I Should’ve Said No”
Rarely do I come across “new” Blues music that I like. I really find most newer Blues to be blatantly superficial and derivative to the point of complete boredom. It is this reviewer’s opinion that very little music of worth, on the Blues horizon, has been recorded in the last 40 years. What has been “worthy” has, almost universally, been done by artists that came out of the 1920s, 30s, maybe even the 1940s, who continue to perform and record.
So it is very refreshing to come across some current Blues that actually has something to say, and something to offer other than homogenised re-hashes of better performed material by the Masters of the Blues. Most modern Blues acts should take my motto to heart: “If ya ain’t got somethin’ t’ say, don’t even play!”
Enough about me - Sister Blue and her loyal band of blues brothers crank out some great stuff that swarms in the essence and gumbo of Chicago Blues, R&B, Soul, Honky-Tonk, Countrified Honly-Tonk & Reggae-ed Blues. Do not be fooled by the sparse arrangements. These songs work perfectly well without all the unnecessary bells and whistles that have been deemed so necessary by the production teams of the last half century. There are no over-blown, self indulgent solos, everything is played ‘to the song’ ... less is more.
Sister Blue is not about playing it safe, but is all about taking chances and risking it all to take the music out of the hum-drum of “every blues band in every bar & every club across the whole USA” .... and diggin’ it in deep.
Lemme say, there is some stellar songwriting here. Anyone can write a blues tune and add a harp or guitar solo and call it Blues. We’ll have none of that with Sister Blue. Some of the songs are totally original takes on traditional themes. “The Shadow Next To Me” could have literally been a Number One Hit for Otis Redding, however, Sister Blue carries the track all on her own.. “Forgive Me” is another Top Ten hit in the making. In the style of New Orleans’ Irma Thomas, it is a soul based R&B song that is performed exquisitely. The acoustic “You Lie” showcases the delicate Delta style Blues groove by Sister, with Sonny Terry-style harmonica, proving that the Sister doesn’t need anything but acoustic instruments to shake her stuff. “Tired Old Shuffle For Baby Boomers” drives along like a freight train, powered by Sister’s stinging lead guitar and a fantastic performance by harmonica man, Marky B, sounding every bit the offspring of Little Walter Jacobs. “Why” is a traditional Chicago jump blues shuffle with a nimble solo by Sister’s main collaborator, Mark Furman. In 2 minutes flat, they fill, then clear, the dance floor with this cookin’ tune.
All things considered, this album belongs to one person and one person only, and that is Sister Blue, who personally told me she struggles with and doesn’t really like the recording process (a process this reviewer loves). One finds it hard to believe such a comment after hearing this record. There is nothing sterile or contrived on any of the 14 trax ... no filler, all original tunes, 13 of which were written, or co-written by Sister Blue.
Sister Blue plays drums on several trax, lead vocals on all trax, solid rhythm guitar, and some very cool, smokin’ hot lead guitar solos. She picks Delta Blues like a born and bred Mississippi Delta Daughter. But her greatest gift is in her interpretation, vocally, of her own songs. Simply said, she sings her ass off!
Everyone gets their credit, and their due. Sister is a team player who happens to also be the focal point of interest in this not to be missed musical endeavour. Trust in the Sister, she doesn’t disappoint and never ceases to surprise with each new track — smooth groove, reggae beat, drivin’ trains or soul stirrin’ R&B, the Sister has got the indefinable, “IT!”
~Blue Lew Campbell, May 17, 2011